Betway Stopping Odds on Transfers Sees Gambling Take a Step in the Right Direction

Andriy Yarmolenko
Andriy Yarmolenko
Betway sponsor West Ham | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Online bookmaker Betway has confirmed it will no longer be offering odds on ‘football transfer’ or ‘player’s next club’ markets in a step towards more responsible gambling.

At a time when gambling is under necessary scrutiny after a major study in 2019 into its effect on men aged 18-35 dubbed it the worst addiction of the lot, that is welcome change to an overall industry that ultimately benefits when people cannot escape it.

Betway’s markets will instead be focused towards what happens on the pitch, with the company stating that transfers are part of the football betting experience they are ‘happy’ to close down. They have also called on other bookmakers to shut their own similar markets.

A statement from Betway explained, “The FA have strict rules on betting and we feel that offering odds on players to move to specific clubs highlights a grey area which has caused issues in the past. It is best removed as an option.”

Although Betway stresses their decision was not motivated by any particular case, it is worth noting as an example that Daniel Sturridge was handed a four-month global ban earlier this year after he was deemed guilty of breaching FA betting regulations by providing a family member with insider information on a potential transfer from Liverpool to Sevilla in 2018.

Sturridge was charged with 11 betting rule breaches by the FA and found guilty on two counts of advising his brother to bet on him moving to the Spanish club. Later in the process two further counts were also proven, including information passed to a friend about joining West Brom.

Kieran Trippier was also charged with a similar betting offence last month regarding his move to Atletico Madrid, and released a statement denying any wrongdoing. The FA’s betting regulations are so strict that something as simple as innocently informing a family member about a trip to (for example) Madrid can land a player in hot water if a bet is placed somewhere further down the line.

From the perspective of the punter, gambling on transfers is a murky world. If odds on a player’s next club are available, fans are encouraged to gamble on something that may only be based on a questionable transfer rumour or social media hearsay.

Because Betway has made profit through offering transfer odds, the decision is not a money one. It is a willing ‘sacrifice’ to ensure that people can gamble more responsibly by placing bets on games rather than transfer rumours from newspapers or television.

Gambling is intertwined with modern football to the point where half of current Premier League clubs have a betting firm as their primary shirt sponsor, while SkyBet owns the EFL naming rights.

Huddersfield Town v Derby County - Sky Bet ChampionshipHuddersfield Town v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
SkyBet currently owns EFL naming rights | John Early/Getty Images

A parliamentary report published just this week recommended the end of all gambling sponsorship on football shirts, as well as banning all gambling advertising in stadiums, on television and online.

In 2018, betting companies voluntarily agreed to an advertising blackout during live sports broadcasts, excluding horse racing, by the summer of 2019.

This year, gambling firms agreed to temporarily stop all television and radio advertising for games and products during the coronavirus lockdown over fears of a spike in betting from people stuck at home while without a job or unable to go to work.

The return of football this week has also brought additional fears from NHS mental health services if companies seek to capitalise with potentially ‘aggressive marketing’.

Premier League Match BallPremier League Match Ball
The Premier League is back from 17 June | Visionhaus/Getty Images

“The return of football will be a moment of excitement for millions but it must not be an excuse for gambling firms to open the floodgates of addiction,” Claire Murdoch, NHS director of mental health, has said ahead of the Premier League’s first games back.

“Plenty of people safely enjoy a flutter, but in the NHS we’re increasingly seeing people in need of specialist help after they fall victim to excessive and aggressive marketing by betting companies. What we don’t want to see over the next 48 hours is firms kicking off more aggressive advertising campaigns to make up for lost time.”

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