Premier League Soccer to Delay Decision on Gambling Sponsorship Ban

Just a few days ago, English Premier League (EPL) soccer clubs were gearing up to vote on whether they should ban gambling sponsorships. However, the quick and sudden exit of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and others is forcing them to change their plans.

Manchester City’s players celebrate their EPL Championship victory over Liverpool this year. EPL teams are going to vote whether to support a voluntary ban on gambling sponsorships, but perhaps not this month. (Image: The Independent)

Because of the changes, the EPL clubs will not weigh in on a voluntary ban on gambling-related sponsorships until July 26. The EPL administration had written to them Monday, asking them to provide their take on the ban.

The league needed an answer before the UK government released its white paper on new gambling laws. However, the resignation of Johnson and Gambling Minister Chris Philp, along with others, alters the course of the reform.

The Changing Tide

The white paper is already long overdue. Initially, the UK expected to produce its major reform last year. That was later pushed back to this past February before finding more delays. Only a few days ago, Philp stated that it was coming this month, but that most likely will not be the case.

The EPL already had a meeting scheduled for July 26. It determined that, based on what’s going on with the British political soap opera, waiting to discuss the voluntary ban until then would be a smart move.

However, the meeting may not lead to a decision that same day. While rumors indicate that the white paper will support a voluntary, in lieu of forced, ban, the EPL may hold off on making a decision until the release of the document.

The UK Parliament is going on break on July 21, according to its current schedule. This, in theory, means the gambling reforms won’t arrive this month. However, the resignation of 60 ministers, politicians and insiders can have an effect on schedules.

Gambling sponsors were on half of the 20 Premier League teams last season. That number has changed through attrition and public pushback. However, when Everton recently decided to accept as a sponsor, the topic took center stage once again.

At least 14 EPL teams must support the voluntary ban for the league to accept it. However, once the door closes, the clubs won’t be able to reopen it.

The UKGC Not Slowing Down

The UK government can’t find a way to proceed with its gambling reforms. However, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) isn’t slowing down with its own new policies. It has already made several changes to how it operates and hopes a new direction will allow it to make smarter changes going forward.

The gaming regulator is going to streamline its approach to rule violations. Tim Miller, the executive director of the UKGC, said during a conference on Wednesday that the regulator will establish a new review system to improve operator accountability.

The change, according to Miller, is the result of continued failures on the part of operators in the UK market. They have not consistently identified vulnerable players or appropriately used safer gambling initiatives to increase responsible gambling procedures.

Both the Commission and the Government have stated publicly that more work is needed here, especially on how operators understand whether they are allowing customers to gamble in ways that are unaffordable,” said UKGC Executive Director Tim Miller.

As a result of the initiative, the UKGC wants stakeholder feedback. It wants their input on how it has applied penalties and how it can improve the system. For example, it wants input on how it can better calculate fines and penalties uniformly in order to “drive compliance with the licensing objectives.”

In addition, there will no longer be a “scattergun approach” to how the regulator introduces stakeholder consultations. Instead of introducing them in a haphazard manner, as has been the case until now, the UKGC will use “consultation windows.” These windows will be open during two established time frames each year.

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