The largest gambling companies in the UK have voluntarily agreed to end all TV ads served during live sports broadcasts, in a move that is most likely to affect football.

It has emerged that the Remote Gambling Association a trade body that includes major betting chains – such as Bet365, William Hill and Ladbrokes – among its members, has agreed to a “whistle-to-whistle” TV ban.

Importantly, the BBC reported, the advertising proposals will include any game broadcast on TV that starts prior to the 9pm watershed but ends after that time.

In effect, no gambling ads will be broadcast for a defined period before and after a game, and the measures will apply to all sports apart from horse racing, a sport that relies heavily on gambling for its commercial viability.

However, football is likely to be severely affected because it is estimated that nearly 60% of clubs in the top two divisions in England have gambling companies as shirt sponsors or billboard advertisers.

While the proposals stop short of a complete ban on football shirt sponsorship, campaigner Matt Zarb-Cousin, a spokesman for Fairer Gambling, said this should be the next step.

“It is long overdue, there has been a huge amount of pressure on the sector over the volume of advertising which has increased exponentially year on year,” he said.

“But for it to be truly effective, it should also include shirt and league sponsorship and digital advertising around a pitch.

“It is better that there are going to be no ads during live sporting events but that falls some way short of being effective. If the whistle-to-whistle TV advertising ban is justified then the other things are as well.”

Final ratification of a ban on TV advertising is required from the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG), but the BBC reported that it is expected to be a formality, with a ban coming into effect as early as this month or in early 2019.

Sourced from BBC; additional content by WARC staff