British gambling giant Bet365 has drawn condemnation from the FA, media and politicians after its football streaming promotion at the weekend.
As part of a deal that the betting operator signed back in January 2017 and came into effect at the start of the 2018-19 season, Bet365 has the rights to selected games until 2024.
However, according to Sky News, at the weekend the operator only provided access to third-round FA Cup matches to customers who had placed a bet or deposited £5 in the 24 hours before kick-off.
In a PR disaster for Bet365, British media, including the Daily Mail, was quick to draw attention to the fact that the FA’s Heads Up mental health campaign, backed by FA President Prince William, has been undermined by gambling firms – brilliantly exemplified by Bet365’s misguided promotion, which the Daily Mail referred to, in a headline splash, as a slap in the face to Prince William.
Also concerning for Bet365 will be the comments of Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, who suggested she would support the FA terminating the deal early if possible.
In a tweet, Morgan called on Bet365 to re-consider their approach, pointing out that “things have moved on” since the contract was signed. The Sports Minister, Nigel Adams, has also weighed in, saying that the “gambling landscape has changed.”
Meanwhile chief executive of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie, called on sports governing bodies to review their relationship with gambling.
The FA, which cut all ties with gambling firms in summer 2017, now says it will be reviewing the media sales process for the 2024-25 season onwards.