Christian charity supports Labour Party's call for ban on betting ads on football shirts

A Christian charity has expressed support for the Labour Party's call to ban gambling companies from posting advertisements on football shirts, saying young fans should not be exposed to such ads.

(REUTERS / Darren Staples)Tom Watson, Britain's opposition Labour Party's deputy leader, speaks during the third day of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, September 27, 2016.

Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson recently urged the Football Association to participate in efforts to address Britain's problem with gambling addiction. Noting that betting companies get a lot of exposure through shirt sponsorship deals, he said they would work with the association to implement a ban on gambling ads before considering legislation, the BBC relayed.

In addition, Watson said putting betting ads on shirts showed that football clubs were not that concerned with gambling problems possibly affecting their fans. He noted that tobacco firms were prohibited from putting their logos on branded items and becoming sports event sponsors because of the harm that smoking causes. In the same way, he said people should also recognize the bad effects of gambling by removing betting ads from football uniforms.

CARE's Director of Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Dan Boucher expressed support for Watson's ideas and said printing gambling ads on football shirts made young fans think that the practice is normal and harmless. He highlighted an existing problem with this issue for young adults, Premier reported.

"This is a positive step in the right direction," said Dr. Boucher. "Betting ads on sports shirts are irresponsible - it normalises gambling to a very young audience."

He added: "Shown completely without context, these shirts are on the backs of children's sports heroes and create the illusion that gambling is harmless, fun and without consequences. We know that is not the case. There has been a trebling in problem gambling amongst 18-24 year olds."

Meanwhile, the U.K. government has launched an investigation into betting machines. It is also set to review the impact of gambling ads on vulnerable audiences including children.