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Stake sticking around

The Premier League might have voluntarily agreed to phase out gambling front-of-shirt sponsorships, but one brand is sticking around.

Stake.com, which sponsored Everton last year as they narrowly avoided relegation, could be set to trade places for an arguably more glamorous position on the front of Chelsea jerseys.

The Telegraph this week revealed the West London club are in final negotiations with the world’s biggest crypto casino over an initial one-year deal, with front-of-shirt deals still permitted until the 2026 season.

Chelsea’s deal with telecoms giant Three ended this season, so naturally a gambling company has stepped up to fill the void.

That agreement was thought to be worth some £40m annually.

A disastrous campaign saw Chelsea fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

A 12-month deal with Stake means they would be able to renegotiate on stronger terms should the club make it back into Europe at the first attempt under new manager Mauricio Pochettino.

According to the Telegraph, Chelsea have also discussed a shirt deal with a number of crypto firms and rejected a concrete offer from insurance giant Allianz.

Blair’s big bet backfires

The Guardian, which this week hit headlines with the decision to ban gambling advertising globally, dissected how Tony Blair’s reforms of the UK gambling industry have spiralled out of control and harmed “millions of lives”.

The 2005 Gambling Act, influenced by the government’s light-touch approach to business, allowed for aggressive advertising and celebrated bookmakers and online casinos as a leading industry that created jobs and generated tax revenue, the media outlet argued.

The rise of smartphones and extensive sports coverage further contributed to the industry’s growth.

However, the industry’s practices have been far from benign, with examples of operators encouraging problem gambling and targeting vulnerable individuals, as cited by beat reporter Rob Davies.

High-street bookmakers concentrated fixed-odds betting terminals in lower-income areas, leading to severe financial losses for some individuals, the author claims.

Davies also highlights the hidden tragedies caused by gambling addiction and challenges the industry’s claims that problem gambling rates are low.

He argues that the close relationship between the industry, lobbyists and politicians has hindered meaningful reform.

Measures put forward in the recent white paper on gambling reform are “likely to affect only a small proportion of gamblers” as advertising regulations remain largely untouched.

“The Blairite vision of Britain’s money-spinning gambling industry has been realised in lurid Technicolor and it looks likely not only to endure, but to flourish anew,” he writes. “The house, of course, always wins,” he concludes.

Congress courts controversies

In the US, meanwhile, congress has become concerned about the increasing number of gambling-related controversies in professional and amateur sports, ESPN reported.

Representatives have sent letters to 12 professional leagues, including the NFL, requesting information on their gambling policies.

Several NFL players, coaches and league personnel have been suspended for gambling policy violations.

The NCAA, a non-profit organisation that regulates student athletics, is also investigating potential betting violations, according to the excellent David Purdum.

Instances such as the firing of a baseball coach at the University of Alabama due to suspicious betting have prompted action, the article suggests.

In response to the scandals, the NFL said it circulated “points of emphasis” in its gambling policy and new additions to its mandated training for players and coaches.

Moreover, the NFL stressed it educates 17,000 league personnel on its gambling policy, and this year rookies are required to “watch an additional training video” that emphasises the prohibition on betting on NFL games while affiliated with the team.

One may argue that the NFL has taken gambling education to a whole new level. I guess you could say they’re going all-in to safeguard their players.