Rick Parry states there is no proof that gambling sponsorship leads to gambling-related harm
English Football League (EFL) chairman Rick Parry has stood up for the football’s relationship with gambling.
Newcastle and Brazilian midfielder Sandro Tonali became the latest Premier League star to be banned from the sport after being handed a 10-month sentence, after the Italian Football Federation found he had breached betting rules while with AC Milan.
Football’s relationship with the industry has come under increased scrutiny following Tonali and Ivan Toney’s suspensions last year.
However, Parry sanctioned EFL’s five-year extension to its title sponsorship agreement with Sky Bet in June and has now moved to argue for the industry’s case.
And Parry, speaking to PA Media, believes that football is entitled to earn back the “billions” it has made the gambling industry, adding that he doesn’t see a correlation between football sponsorship and gambling harm.
Parry stated: “It’s only fair that there is a way of channelling some of that revenue into sport.
“Enabling sport to negotiate marketing agreements to get a share of the billions that are flowing in is something I have no difficulty with whatsoever as a concept.
“We’ve commissioned research, we’ve looked extensively and we haven’t seen any evidence that sponsorship leads to an increase in gambling or gambling harm.
“The values of gambling in England have been fairly steady across the decades and there is no direct correlation between sponsorship and gambling harm.
“Nobody wants gambling harm, nobody wants players to become addicted, or indeed non-players. But it is two different issues that tend to get conflated in terms of what we are doing with players and indeed with the non-players.”
Parry added that football has a responsibility to educate and support players who gamble, saying the sport can’t ignore the ongoing issue.
August saw the Flutter Entertainment-owned operator announce that it will take a consumer-relevant approach to promote safe gambling starting from the current season.
Parry said: “If we didn’t have Sky Bet sponsorship we would still have players betting – they always have, they always will.
“Our responsibility is to try to make sure that we support and that we educate – it’s not just about punishment. As we’ve seen pretty graphically in Italy recently, it’s not just been about identifying punishment, it’s identifying that some of the players have genuine addiction problems. It’s how you assist in rehabilitation as well as punishment, and there are no magic answers.
“It’s a problem that will continue to exist. We have to try to tackle it and address it, without in any way pretending it’s not there.
“But that said, that absolutely shouldn’t preclude us from entering into responsible and sensible marketing arrangements when gambling operators are making a huge amount of money out of sport, and have been encouraged to do so by successive governments,” he concluded.