Why safer gambling is front and centre of our partnership with the EFL
When Sheffield Wednesday kicked off against Southampton three weeks ago it marked not only the start of another great football season – but the beginning of our second decade as sponsor of the English Football League.
It’s a partnership that is close to our hearts at Sky Bet and one of the longest running and most successful in professional sport.
I’m particularly proud that the emphasis both ourselves and the EFL put on social responsibility was held up by the Government in its White Paper earlier this year as an example for others to learn from when looking at sports sponsorship.
Much has changed on the pitch since we became EFL title sponsors for the 2013-2014 season. Back then, Luton Town were still in non-league football and Yeovil were in the Sky Bet Championship.
While I can’t predict who will be going up or down this season, I can guarantee there will be some changes around the side of the pitch too – with our safer gambling messaging.
Those who were lucky enough to witness the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final between Luton and Coventry would have seen perimeter advertising hoardings highlighting that more than 1 million people have now signed up to our safer gambling tools at Sky Bet – enough to fill 11 Wembleys.
By this we mean a customer who is using ‘tools’ such as a deposit limit or a loss limit, a customer who takes the occasional ‘time out’ or uses our profit and loss tool to check their spend, their balance and hopefully – from their point of view at least! – their ‘wins’.
The tools we offer are intended to give customers extra controls and support when playing with us. Just like screentime on your mobile or an overdraft limit, they are designed so that people placing a bet on sportsbooks or chancing their arm on the slots can help to regulate their play.
We promote deposit limits because we know that customers who use them are more likely to stick to their budget.
Our parent company Flutter has set a challenging target of having 75 per cent of customers using SG tools by 2030. At Sky Bet, we’re already at 50 per cent and it’s a huge testament to everyone in our business, and the teams of people in our head office in Leeds dedicated to customer safety.
The approach we used at Wembley stemmed from our commitment to continually learn and improve our Safer Gambling messaging so it can be as effective as it can be.
We have historically used perimeter advertising and sleeve badges on shirts to promote safer gambling, and we’ve also used our inventory to raise awareness of industry safer gambling campaigns such as “Take Time to Think”.
But from the discussions we have with academics and leading consultants, in areas such as behavioural science, felt we should make the messaging more relevant to people in the stadia or sporting arena where they see it.
And it’s a theme we intend to build on as the season progresses, be it signs at Hillsborough about the number of Sky Bet customers who have signed up in Sheffield or other grounds with LED perimeter boards across the EFL.
Our latest approach is just the latest example of safer gambling being more than just words to us at Sky Bet. It’s a key priority for our business and we are constantly seeking to use our tech and data to put the right protections in place – and to ensure our marketing campaigns are as impactful and effective as possible.
We know that for the vast majority going to watch their favourite EFL team – or just enjoying a game on the TV – a flutter on the football is harmless fun. But we’re absolutely committed to making sure we do all we can to protect those who may be at risk of harm.
The EFL shares this belief and it’s why safer gambling is very much front and centre of our partnership as we begin a new season together.
Steve Birch, Chief Commercial Officer, Sky Betting and Gaming