Home Gambling Fan Letters: Gambling in footy special as readers weigh in on Sunderland’s new sponsor

Fan Letters: Gambling in footy special as readers weigh in on Sunderland’s new sponsor


Dear Roker Report,

I read the article about the wisdom of gambling companies sponsoring football clubs and I agree with it. This has long been a concern for me, not least because the game raises the specter of match-fixing and corruption. Put gambling and sport in the same context and it increases the temptation.

There are three undesirable results. More ordinary people are being dragged into a possible addiction that they cannot afford. Where opportunity is seen, corruption will follow and suddenly the highest odds will see the most bizarre results. Footballers have excess funds and time and one consequence is the many examples of footballers whose privileged lives have been torn apart by the game.

This seems to be a potential problem for football in general.

Best wishes

RM Weston

Dear Roker Report,

I have to say they wouldn’t have been my first choice. In the scheme of things, I guess they didn’t invite a journalist to a meeting, strangle him, saw him into several pieces, stuff his gruesome remains into suitcases and then smuggle them out while his loving bride waited for him outside.

Still, Spreadex Sports isn’t quite right for me. Who would we choose then?

keep up the good work

Richard Purdom

Dear Roker Report,

No, I am not happy that SAFC is linked to the game. Such sponsorship implies that the club supports such a socially destructive habit.

Sadly, I have seen the destruction gambling can bring to families, not only financially, but worse – suicide.

As long as I’m STID, I can’t stand this.


Bob Langley

Dear Roker Report,

It’s totally out of order, with the club being associated with gambling concerns.

George Turnbull

Dear Roker Report,

Gambling destroys too many lives, relationships and families. Young people don’t need to have teams they support to encourage betting, it so easily leads to addiction

William Richardson

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thank you all for writing about this important topic. I have read these letters with interest and watched the “under the line” comments on our articles and on social media over the past two days.

In fact, I was surprised at the level of opposition to Sunderland’s partnership with Spreadex, I thought only us ‘left-handed snowflakes’ at Roker Report would have a problem with it.

It is clear to me that awareness of the negative impact of gambling on individuals, families, communities and society at large is growing and opposition to the pervasive advertising of gambling that we face when we watch games in person and on TV is cause for concern.

Gambling is a legal activity – just like smoking and drinking alcohol – and will remain so for good reason. We know from the disastrous and ongoing “War on Drugs” that prohibition only drives people into the hands of criminals and discourages people from seeking help for their problems. No one is suggesting stopping people from having a bet.

But the harm principle would suggest that when the price of individuals’ choices is not only paid by that person themselves, then society – through government and our other collective organizations like football authorities – has a responsibility not to promote the activity, especially in arenas where children are present.

Although it is obviously ridiculous to compare the human and environmental design imposed on the world by the owners of Newcastle United to an online betting exchange. I think the industry will watch the era of online betting sponsorship with a sense of embarrassment, and around 20 clubs have already refused to partner with gaming companies and have asked the government to intervene.

We know the Conservative government considered banning shirt front advertising by gambling companies, but they have now bottled it up and the willingness to seek a voluntary ban is self-imposed by the government. ‘ELF and the Premier League rather than legislate.

A self-imposed Premier League ban could kick in from next season, and with Sunderland’s aim for the men’s side to reach that level as soon as possible, this partnership cannot be long-term. But Everton fans have successfully protested their clubs entering into such deals. So it will be interesting to see whether or not the Red and White Army will be ready to rally around this issue and wage a campaign.

Sunderland AFC will no doubt say they need the money and this partnership is the best value they could get, but there are obviously other branches who could have become our main partner if they had the power to look for alternatives.

Formula 1 managed to survive the ban on tobacco advertising, find new sponsors and attract new audiences. As Neil Graney wrote yesterday, this deal doesn’t fit easily with the ‘Caring Club’ brand.

I am also fully aware of the fact that we regularly have a weekly feature called ‘Roker Riches’ where a number of our editors give their betting tips and predictions. This was rightly pointed out to us in response to our social media posts.

As an editorial team, we have made the decision to discontinue this feature. Too many of our writers, podcasters, and readers have been negatively impacted by the game for it to continue to be part of our output.