Gambling advertisements should be banned in sports, the Church of Scotland has said in a report published ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
The report, titled Striving Together: Celebrating Competitiveness in Sport, also urges the Scottish and UK Governments to ban adverts for short-term loan companies who “charge exorbitant rates”.
The Glasgow 2014 games, which involves athletes competing across 17 sports, will begin in July. Sponsors include a host of organisations such as John Lewis, Virgin Media and ScotRail.
But Scottish football team Hearts is sponsored by payday loan company Wonga and Rangers are set to receive support from online casino 32Red.
The Church of Scotland said: “We also urge the Scottish and UK Governments and sporting bodies to implement measures designed to reduce hazardous and harmful gambling and to impose a ban on advertising gambling in the context of sports.
“The normalisation of gambling has been proven to have a damaging effect on the lives of thousands across Scotland.
“Some may see our stance as radical but we believe it is necessary to improve the quality of life for people living in this country.”
In March, figures revealed that in the nine most deprived council areas of Scotland, £2 billion was wagered on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) last year in 471 bookmakers. A total of £69 million was lost by gamblers.
In contrast, people in the eleven least deprived council areas of Scotland bet £1.1 billion and lost £40 million in 272 bookmakers.
The figures were produced by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling using industry data.
“Bookmakers claim betting shops in less deprived areas are eight times more profitable than those in deprived areas but we don’t see them opening shops there”, said Campaign for Fairer Gambling’s Adrian Parkinson.
“Instead, they are clustering on the high streets of deprived areas.
“Why are there only 21 betting shops in Aberdeenshire while North Lanarkshire has 87?
“It’s up to councillors and politicians to get to grips with this problem before Scotland’s high streets descend into a toxic economy of betting shops and payday loan operators.”