One of the UK’s biggest betting operators is the first to be transparent about how much of its business comes from high-risk players.
This new step comes from Kindred Group, which owns nine brands including 32Red and Unibet. The company opened its books from the last financial quarter to reveal that the vast majority (96%) of its revenue comes from safe gameplay, leaving only 4% coming from customers who show signs of harmful gambling.
Last year, Kindred conducted approximately 55,000 care calls to inform players about how they can gamble safely and responsibly, such as introduce restrictions like deposit limits. 75.7% of Kindred’s detected players displayed a healthier gambling behaviour after being in contact with Kindred’s Responsible Gambling team.
By 2023, Kindred Group it aims to achieve 100% of its revenue from genuinely safe players. The decision to publish the current figure comes with the aim to increase knowledge and transparency about the company’s sustainability work and contribute to a fact-based dialogue about harmful gambling with decision-makers and other stakeholders.
This could be because the announcement comes amid news that the government is considering restricting or outright banning betting providers from sponsoring sports teams due to concerns that it “normalises” gambling. This issue is currently being analysed as part of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with a deadline for evidence set for next month.
32Red is the principal shirt sponsor of Derby County, Preston North End and Middlesbrough in the Championship, along with Scottish giants Rangers.
In a statement for the BBC, Kindred’s UK general manager Neil Banbury said “By opening our books… we can reach a solution to ensure players who need assistance with their betting behaviour receive it.”
Mr Banbury admits there is a lot of gambling advertising within football. Three-quarters of Premier League teams and nearly 90% of Championship teams have betting sponsors or partners.
“Removing the ability for us to work with the football industry completely would be a really negative step. It won’t have any significant impact in tackling problem gambling.
“Our involvement in football provides the clubs with finances at a really tough time, certainly outside the Premier League, and gives us a good opportunity to have an impact on various issues.”
It is estimated that teams in the top two divisions would lose a combined £110m a year if a ban were brought in. Last week, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC that he was aware of the impact a ban on gambling sponsorship would have on finances in the English Football League.
“I’m very mindful of the impact that problem gambling has, particularly on young people,” he said. “That’s why we’re taking a very open, evidence-based approach. I want to look at all the evidence and consider all the options and then to consult on specific measures.
The British Gambling Commission (BGC) has already taken strides in protecting both young people and vulnerable sports bettors recently. Last year they introducted the whistle-to-whistle ban which prevents football spectators from seeing gambling ads during games.
Both the Premier League and the EFL – which is sponsored by Sky Bet – say their clubs comply with the current safety regulations in place. The EFL added that its “mutually beneficial” relationship with the gambling industry was conducted in a “responsible manner”.
What do we think?
It’s great to see one of the biggest gambling providers take this step in transparency for British betting, revealing that dangerous, addictive gambling is not as rife as many headlines make out. We like to see gambling spoken about for what it really is for the vast majority of players—a fun and entertaining pastime, rather than a dangerous exploit.
However, this figure might need to be taken with a grain of salt. Kindred has not released its metrics for what defines a “high-risk player”. We would like to see this added bit of information before we can fully celebrate.
As for English football, an outright ban of sponsorship deals with betting providers would be a harsh and devastating decision for the sport. We need to see research that backs up claims that seeing betting logos on football shirts causes people to gamble dangerously rather than drawing up legislation based on feelings.
If you or somebody you know is impacted by harmful gambling habits, take a read of our responsible gambling guide, or learn more about the resources you can use to take a break.