Gambling Advertising and Incidental Marketing Exposure in Soccer Matchday Programmes

A Longitudinal Study




Sports gambling, Advertising, Marketing, Sponsorship, Gambling Harm


Gambling is marketed in English soccer across various formats such as TV advertising, social media, pitch side hoardings, and shirt sponsorship. There have been recent reductions in TV advertising brought about by self-regulation, but gambling shirt sponsorship remains frequent, and can lead to a high frequency of incidental marketing exposure on TV. Knowledge is lacking on how gambling advertising frequency and marketing exposure have changed over time in other media, such as in matchday programmes. This study addressed this gap via a content analysis of programmes for 44 teams across 3 periods spanning 18 months (N=132). The number of gambling adverts decreased from 2.3 to 1.3 per-programme, while incidental exposure prevalence stayed constant, at a higher rate of 42.7 incidences per-programme. Teams sponsored by gambling companies had more adverts per-programme than those sponsored by other industries (2.3 versus 1.2), and also had more incidental exposure (58.8 versus 20.2). Incidental exposure to gambling marketing was consistently more prevalent (42.7) per-programme than alcohol (3.2) or safer gambling messages (3.1). Furthermore, across all timepoints, 56.8% of dedicated children’s sections contained incidences of gambling marketing. Researchers and policymakers should consider that sports fans can get exposed to gambling marketing through a number of channels outside of TV advertising. Indirect and incidental exposure to gambling marketing remains high, which can be particularly challenging for those experiencing gambling related harm. All forms of gambling marketing must be considered when making legislative changes.

Author Biographies

Steve Sharman, King's College London

Dr Steve Sharman is a Research Fellow in Gambling Studies at the National Addiction Centre, King’s College London where he works examining the influence of within-game constructs on gambling behaviour using virtual reality, and with UK treatment providers to reduce gambling related harms. He was previously funded by a Society for the Study of Addiction Academic Fellowship, examining gambling behaviour, at the University of East London. His primary research interests focus on researching the influence of within-game constructs on gambling behaviour, using virtual reality. Steve completed his BSc in Psychology at UEL, an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, and a PHD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge.

Catia Alexandra Ferreira , Anglia Ruskin University

Ms Ferreira completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of East London, and an MSc in Research Methods at Anglia Ruskin University.

Philip W.S. Newall, Central Queensland University

Dr Philip Newall is a Lecturer at the University of Bristol. He has previously held postdoctoral positions at the Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory at Central Queensland University, Australia, the University of Warwick, and the University of Munich. He completed a BSc in Economics and Statistics at UCL, an MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences at UCL, and a PhD in Economics at Stirling University. He has won funding from multiple different funding bodies, published many peer-reviewed articles, presented data to different Government bodies and evidence call, and is a current member of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling.


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How to Cite

Sharman, S., Ferreira, C. ., & Newall, P. (2023). Gambling Advertising and Incidental Marketing Exposure in Soccer Matchday Programmes: A Longitudinal Study. Critical Gambling Studies, 4(1), 27–37.



Original Research Articles