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Urgent Question on the deal between the FA and Bet365

9 January 2020

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Carolyn Harris MP has asked the Government to act on the FA's deal with Bet365, which gives the bookmakers exclusive access to stream certain FA Cup games.

In 2017, the Football Association brokered a deal with media firm IMG for the rights to stream FA Cup third-round matches. Recently, IMG sold these rights to betting firms such as Bet365, meaning fans had to place a bet or put £5 in an account before they could watch the games.

Concerns have been raised that this could lead people to a develop a gambling addiction, with Carolyn Harris MP asking how the Government plan to address this.

Carolyn Harris MP: "this deal is shameful"

Carolyn Harris MP told the House of the harms caused by gambling addictions, stating that the problem was so widespread it should be treated "as a public health crisis".

She shared her concerns that the need to place a bet or open an account would encourage first-time betters, and drew attention the fact that Bet365 broadcast the matches with odds accompanying the matches and promoted betting tips on their social media advertising for the games.

The Member concluded:

"Everything about this deal is shameful, everything about this deal needs to be dealt with, everything about the Gambling Act needs reform."

Nigel Adams MP: "a high risk of harm"

Responding on behalf of the Government, Nigel Adams MP, Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) said that although sporting organisations should have the freedom to manage their own commercial relationships, they have a responsibility to ensure the safety of fans.

He welcomed the steps taken by betting companies and football organisations to reduce harm, and asked for this "momentum" to continue. 

The Minister of State said:

"While many people enjoy gambling as a leisure pursuit, we can't forget that it carries a high risk of harm and can seriously impact individuals, families and communities."

Image: Waldemar Brandt via Unsplash

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