Sir Iain Duncan Smith calls on Government to pressure FA to act on Bet365 deal

9th January 2020

Sir Iain Duncan Smith calls on the Government to review its financial support for the FA if the FA does not step back from the deal that would see football matches being streamed through betting websites such as Bet365 which will inevitably drive people who gamble into higher levels of gambling.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) on obtaining the urgent question. In a sense, it does not really matter what the FA says to explain. The evidence is clear. The all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm conducted a series of inquiries with the chief executives of several gambling companies. The biggest area of risk is their drive to get more and more people into VIP rooms, where they give them incentives, such as tickets for football matches. What we are discussing is all part of that. The biggest abuse takes place in that process, whereby companies drive people who gamble a lot into higher levels of gambling because that is where their profits lie. It is not good enough for the FA to say, “Well, we didn’t really mean this and we’ll review it.” The Government give the FA financial assistance. I urge my hon. Friend, as Minister for Sport, to tell the FA that unless it moves on the matter pretty damn quickly, we will review its financial support.

My right hon. Friend has a long history of campaigning on this issue, and he is absolutely correct. On his first point, the Gambling Commission is looking into the matter. As for the financial assistance the Government give the Football Association, I understand the Football Foundation receives about £18 million, and my right hon. Friend will be aware of our manifesto commitment to £500 million for grassroots football. I assure him that that will be on my agenda when I meet the FA next week.

Hansard

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