Where does the future lie for gambling operator advertising in professional sport?

Gambling operator advertising in professional sport
Government considers ban of gambling operator advertising in professional sport

According to The Times, the Government may ban betting firm logos from football kits as it weights up a blanket ban on kit sponsorships. And it might not only affect football. Sports such as snooker, darts, and boxing are also under consideration. What does this potential change mean for the future of gambling operator advertising in professional sport?

Government ministers are becoming increasingly concerned about gambling addiction. Currently, eight premier league teams have their shirts sponsored by gambling operators. Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, said: “Footballers, darts players, snooker players and rugby players are like walking billboards for gambling companies. The evidence shows this sort of advertising is impacting negatively on children who are growing up thinking you have to put on a bet to enjoy sport.”

As it stands, teams from the top two divisions make around £110million a year from shirt deals with gambling companies. But would a potential ban stop at clothing sponsorship?

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a senior figure in the all-party parliamentary group on gambling harm, said a crackdown on shirts is a positive move. Yet, he’s urging the Government to go further and ban advertising from the industry entirely.

“Banning gambling logos on sportswear would be a welcome step,” says Sir Iain. “But given the risks presented by gambling, the Government will need to deal with this issue more widely. A complete ban on gambling advertising is long overdue and, should be brought forward ahead of the gambling review.”

Is this the right step forward? Is advertising the issue, or do the Government and regulators need to give more thought to the behavioural issues of individuals at risk? What are the key drivers for problem gamblers?  

Pros and cons of operator sponsorship 

First, the top two divisions invest income from shirt deals into players wages. And, importantly, teams often reinvest money into their local communities. Thirdly, they invest in opportunities for youth teams, as a result, boosting the younger generation. There are, however, people who still disagree with it. 

What’s the flip side? Campaigners who wish to see an end to sports betting sponsorship argue that it influences minors. Children constantly see gambling company logos on their favourite teams and players which normalises gambling. But it can lead to problems for vulnerable people, especially those at risk of developing an addiction because it can appear safe.

What’s the answer?    

That’s the million-dollar question!

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which heads the review into gambling, insists they don’t yet have a decision on the ban.

“We are undertaking a comprehensive review of gambling laws to make sure they are fit for the digital age. We are determined to tackle problem gambling in all its forms. No decisions have been taken.”

Professional sports teams maximise the sponsorship opportunities to invest in their businesses. And gambling firms use sports as a platform to reach customers.

Is there an alternative to sponsorship advertising where gambling firms can still invest, but without kits? As part of the agreement, can they reinvest to raise the awareness of the support available for individuals struggling with problem gambling or those most at risk?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on advertising in professional sport. Head on over to our social channels to join the conversation.  

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Help for problem gambling – AnonyMind Meets: Dr Jamie Barsky

Watch Dr Jamie Barsky, Lead Clinician for AnonyMind.com, as he defines problem gambling and shares the help available for those struggling. Plus, Jamie shares how AnonyMind makes it easier for those who need support to reach their recovery goals.

#gambling #askforhelp #itsoktotalk

Effect of COVID-19 on gambling

There have been many anecdotal features online or on social around an increase in gambling and gambling harms during COVID lockdowns, but here are some actual numbers…

Covid-19 gambling statistics

It’s okay to ask for help…

Find out more about our FREE to use free access online service that helps people overcome gambling disorders and move on with their lives. We offer direct online access to self-help support and to a team of caring professional problem gambling recovery therapists.

Gambling addiction and AnonyMind: Our Story

195,000 people are registered on GAMSTOP, the free service aimed at helping those with a gambling addiction restrict online gambling. But in 2019/2020, only 9008 individuals treated within gambling services.

AnonyMind recognises the need for both online and physical support for those suffering from gambling addiction. And this is our story.

AnonyMind was launched in May 2020 by co-founding partners Andy Iddon, Chris Metcalf and Ryan Durkin.

Chris was already involved in Leon House Health and Wellbeing, a residential clinic for individuals on a gambling addiction recovery programme, when Andy had sold his digital business in 2016. Alongside helping out smaller agencies, Andy was seeking a passion project with a social impact. He approached Chris about investing in Leon House – the UK’s first 30-bedroom CQC and RET registered gambling treatment residential facility.

Leon House was successful in delivering short burst residential pathways (designed by leading mental health consultants, Cognacity). But it was trying to understand what it could do to improve the number of people, harmed by gambling, in gaining access to treatment when they need it most.

Chris says: “When we looked at how Andy’s investment might look, we began talking about a digital offering. We had noticed a trend in people struggling with an addiction who were initially reluctant to attend a clinic. We asked ourselves, what could be preventing these at-risk individuals from being treated? The stigma perhaps; having to confess to an addiction that can be generally secret and unseen. Or perhaps they can’t afford the time out for traditional face-to-face treatment. Or traveling to a treatment location was proving a challenge, either through mental health breakdowns or financial constraints.”

Andy adds: “We took all of these characteristics and designed the concept of AnonyMind, a digital platform to facilitate treatment anywhere, anytime, free to those who need it the most. The aim of reference to ‘Anony’ in our company name is to give individuals the confidence they can access this online platform anonymously, no matter how they come to us.”

In November 2019. Chris and Andy met with Ryan, a former CTO of Andy’s company Building Blocks, to sketch out the platform and determine how it would work. Ryan then worked on the technical and design aspects, whilst Chris and Andy reached out to gambling operators to seek funding for the treatment.  

“The secure and scalable platform would enable clients and clinicians to book and run online sessions at a time that suits both. This convenience aims at encouraging people to start, and keep up with, their treatment,” continues Ryan. “By August 2020, the platform was built; an opportunity to bridge that gap – where residential, at that time, wasn’t an option for someone.”

In March, the country went into lockdown. As residential clinics closed, the lockdown period cemented the groups decision to support people through the online platform. Andy adds: “We’re answering the question of barriers to access. A global pandemic and ‘must close’ mandates for clinics were not in the plan but underpinned our decision to move to a digital delivery model.”

Helping people overcome gambling addiction and move on with their lives

Talking about the ethos behind AnonyMind, Chris says: “Our goal at AnonyMind is to leverage advanced technologies to break the existing barriers that clients have in accessing support in an industry typically restricted to clinic-based, cookie-cutter treatment pathways. So, we offer a range of graduated interventions from online self-serve support to more intensive one-to-one professional treatment pathways supporting individuals affected by gambling-related harms and other addictions at Leon House. That online support was vital when clinics had to shut because of COVID-19.”

“We’re bringing people suffering from addiction on a journey of recovery. AnonyMind is not just about treating people with problem gambling; we support them with a long-term recovery programme.”

The role of the AnonyMind clinicians

Dr Jamie Barsky, a clinical psychologist specialising in gambling disorders and compulsive behaviour, commented: “We are personalising client support and treatment pathways to meet individually assessed needs and promote a ‘client first’ ethos. With this approach, we respect clients as equal, expert partners in their own care. It is the joining together of a client’s expertise and that of the professional that will ensure the quality of their care.”

“It takes a lot for people to reach out for help. So, AnonyMind makes it simpler for them to get the help they need. People who use our service can do so easily, privately and at a time that suits them. And we may be online, but we’re not bots. Our face-to-face therapy sessions are with real people. These are highly experienced, qualified and regulated therapists and psychologists who listen to people’s stories, understand their concerns and help support them to a better future.

“We need to listen to their story. And we help clients to develop a personal recovery plan based on evidence-based psychological techniques to reach their goals.”

When stopping gambling isn’t enough to stop gambling addiction

Sustaining the recovery journey is a point that Andy is keen to reiterate. He says “We’re online because that way, people can get the help when they need it – at their own pace and in their own time. If they move house, that’s not a problem, we have that continuity of care built-in. This means we can improve client uptake and retention recovery rates through our multi-choice offering. Just ‘stopping gambling’ isn’t enough.”

“People lead busy lives with lots of demands on their time,” says Chris. “Those who use our service can go online anytime-anywhere. It’s quick and easy to plug into motivational advice and guidance and inspirational ‘lived experience’ stories from recovering gamblers. People can go online to make appointments with therapists at times that fit in with personal or work, or family commitments.”

AnonyMind: Our future

The team behind AnonyMind believe there’s too much reliance on governance and charity to support individuals with an addiction and that there is an opportunity for private organisations. 

Andy says: “AnonyMind provides that opportunity. The platform was initially privately funded by the founding directors. Now we are operational we are leveraging funding primarily from operators, such that the AnonyMind platform can provide a controlled assessment in problematic gambling – a triage service. But it doesn’t stop here. According to Reed in Partnership, 75% of problem gamblers are working adults. And 82% think that gambling and related debt is a distraction within the workplace.

“So, AnonyMind is currently working with several corporate organisations to put gambling awareness on their employee wellbeing agendas, and Employee Assistance Programmes. Supporting employees, who may be suffering in silence with gambling addiction, is easy with AnonyMind. It starts with evaluating the potential workforce wellness benefits of providing staff with discreet access to gambling recovery support. It can reduce the organisational risks associated with problem gambling: whether that’s loss of time and productivity; theft, fraud and embezzlement; security risks; and effects of homeworking.”

Chris adds: “Leon House already works alongside a number of institutions, sporting organisations and corporate clients. We support staff and client wellbeing, mental health and treats any addictions, so we’re a natural progression to that corporate solution.”

And, in March 2021, AnonyMind partnered with the Gordon Moody Association. The charity has nearly 50 years of experience providing residential support for people severely addicted to gambling. So, the platform is growing its reach to help as many people as possible.

Andy concludes: “We are evidencing impact and sharing accurate, actionable data and insights with the industry. And we’re collaborating with funders and being held accountable for the Return on Funding (RoF) metrics. There is so much more we can, and will do, to support anyone suffering from problem gambling-related harms.”

AnonyMind announce Capella Synergy as marketing specialists

AnonyMind specialises in the identification, assessment, treatment, and on-going support of gambling addicts and has appointed Capella Synergy as marketing specialists to help grow its expertise and treatment programme’s digital presence.

Established in May 2020 by co-founding partners Andy Iddon, Chris Metcalf, Gary Metcalf and Ryan Durkin, AnonyMind is an online treatment platform, partnered with residential treatment centres, Leon House (London and Manchester), delivering assessments and treatment from an expanding network of clinicians. After successfully developing its business model, AnonyMind is ready to raise its profile and support individuals, employers, and operators, with the impacts of problem gambling.

Andy Iddon, founder and co-owner of AnonyMind, commented on the appointment of Capella Synergy: “We were looking for experts to develop our digital marketing strategy. We have reams of useful content, resources and messaging, just not the time to deliver it. Capella Synergy is exactly what we are looking for in a strategic partner. We wanted marketing specialists with a similar work ethos to ours that understands our business objectives and can create engaging and inspiring content.” 

Suzi Johnson, director of Capella Synergy is delighted to be working with AnonyMind: “From the initial meeting with the AnonyMind team, I was excited to work with a company where everyone has strong enthusiasm and determination. With AnonyMind, services that can positively impact individuals, families, livelihoods, and mental well-being, it is vital the messaging is informative, resonates, and starts some tough conversations on problem gambling. When you see the destructive behaviours that addiction creates, it makes marketing the solutions all the more rewarding, and I look forward to seeing what we can deliver together.”