Posted on: February 24, 2023, 04:02h.
Last updated on: February 24, 2023, 12:20h.
Norwich City FC is coming off an impressive 3-1 win over Birmingham in the second-tier English Football League (EFL) Championship on Tuesday. But the victory is overshadowed by negative publicity. In light of the sensitive nature of gambling topics in the UK, the club’s decision to distribute betting-related emails has ruffled a few feathers.
Norwich City, which signed DraftKings as a partner last October, reportedly sent an email to subscribers plugging the Spreadex sports betting platform, according to the BBC. It offered bonuses to anyone who registered for an account and placed a bet with the operator.
While that may not seem controversial by itself, there’s more to the story. There were apparently more than a few recipients who have stepped away from gambling over their addiction and had self-excluded from gambling-related marketing.
Norwich City Ignores its Mantra
The BBC received an alert from James Grimes of The Big Step, a group that’s trying to eliminate gambling and betting ads in UK sports. Grimes received a complaint from a former gambling addict in recovery and shared it with the media outlet.
Grimes, who is also a former gambling addict, expressed his disappointment in the soccer club’s marketing tactics. He said Norwich City previously stated it would no longer have gambling sponsors, and he believes the marketing campaign countermands that claim.
Grimes called the email “disappointing” and “inexcusable,” and says the club probably could have saved itself a lot of grief if it had done more due diligence. If it had ensured that all recipients of the email had approved gambling-related communication, the issue may have never surfaced.
Grimes added that it seems contradictory that a club that has denounced gambling sponsorships would send out betting-related marketing. However, just because clubs may not want to put gaming operators on the front of their jerseys doesn’t mean they oppose the idea completely.
Gambling and betting still occupy legitimate spots in the commercial space. As the UK Gambling Commission has pointed out on numerous occasions, the “problem gambling” rate in the UK is less than 0.5%, making it virtually non-existent.
Responsible Gambling a Hot Topic in the UK
Although there are more pressing issues than gambling in the UK, nothing is getting more press in the gaming industry than issues related to responsible gambling. The government’s updated gambling reforms are long overdue, according to industry insiders, but progress is reportedly coming.
When the government presents its long-awaited gambling white paper, it will likely support a recommendation from the English Premier League (EPL) that would lead to a front-of-shirt ban by gambling companies. If previous rumors are true, the prohibition will only cover the EPL, the top tier in English soccer, and won’t apply to other tiers, such as the EFL.
The UK government acknowledged this week that it’s moving closer to the presentation of the white paper. It said reforms to the sports industry will be a large part of its plans, though questions remain about when the reforms will be ready.
The government will take a short break at the end of March, returning in May. Following another cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, sports minister Stuart Andrew is confident an update will be ready “in the coming weeks.”