Gambling firms were accused of behaving “like vultures” after bombarding football fans with television adverts and free bets as Premiership football restarted this week.
After a three month break, football’s return was marred by more than 20 gambling adverts during just two matches.
Last week, 50 prominent MPs called for a complete ban on gambling advertising to protect the vulnerable.
Despite curbs already in place for live sporting events, the first two televised Premier League matches since the lockdown contained a total of 24 gambling adverts, with 14 coming before the watershed.
The games also showed multiple images of gambling firms’ logos, in the form of shirt sponsors, pitch hoardings and banners.
Carolyn Harris, head of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Gambling Related Harm, accused the firms of “swarming like vultures’” around supporters.
Consultant psychologist and Clinical Director of the NHS Northern Gambling Service Dr Matthew Gaskell said: “These adverts cause immense harm. Football is huge amongst children and these adverts are for adult products, often endorsed by celebrities who should know better.
“They normalise a harmful, adult product just as the tobacco industry used to do, providing the gateway for the next generation of harm.”
A group of 50 prominent MPs has called for a complete ban on gambling advertising to protect the vulnerable, following a year-long inquiry into the UK’s online betting industry.
In its report the APPG for Gambling Related Harm made more than 30 recommendations, including a ban on all betting advertising, a £2 stake limit on online slot machines and an end to VIP schemes.
The MPs added that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for more restrictions, as people can currently “gamble with ease from home, at any time of day and at any level, via a mobile phone”.