Matchroom Sport founder shows concern over UK gambling laws
The Founder and Chairman of Matchroom Sport Barry Hearn is now the newest figure in the sports world to express their concerns over the UK government’s attitude towards the refinement of the country’s gambling laws.
Hearn is well known as being the UK’s most prominent sports advocate for darts, snooker and boxing. He said that imposing a ban on gambling sponsorship will most likely end up being a ‘disaster for every layer of sport’.
The media has been speculating that UK PM Boris Johnson is highly likely to be in favour of a blanket ban on betting sponsorship all across UK sports. Hearn has shared that this is the expected aftermath of the gambling review. Despite that, he also noted that he isn’t quite convinced that the government will set a blanket ban, but that it will impose alterations on how gambling services are promoted and advertised.
Hearn, who is now 72, has owned Leyton Orient, the EFL League Two club, from 1995 up until 2014. He said that the main trouble of problem gambling should be addressed ‘by legislation, rather than self governance’.
Hearn also stated:
It’s all very well looking at Premier League football, but there’s lots of sports – and darts and snooker are two of them – when a considerable amount of that money goes down the chain towards grass-roots, which actually saves government money. We’ve always looked to broaden our sponsorship, but the demand has been huge from gambling companies for our events. I’m never worried, because I went through the tobacco situation. Perhaps you have to accept some financial loss, but it’s more important to think what the money does.
Back in 1995, the UK government imposed a ban on tobacco advertising. Hearn shared his struggles of trying to bring back the darts and snooker scene from the financial trouble that the ban caused.
Hearn owns Matchroom, the sporting events promotions company, which currently has deals set up with a bunch of gambling firms. Just last year, Matchroom signed a five-year extension deal with Stats Perform in order to keep its live betting streaming rights with the group.
Moreover, Hearn also spoke to SportBusiness, saying that Matchroom was put ‘under pressure’ when it comes to the proceeding review of the 2005 Gambling Act, and acknowledged the fact that smaller tournaments could possibly be negatively affected by a ban on gambling sports partnerships since it is actually quite gruelling to search for sponsors in competitions including the ‘Webber Cup Ten Pin Bowling’ or ‘The Ping Pong World Championships’.
In an interview with the global intelligence service, he also revealed:
We’ve been discussing this for two to three years, everyone seems to be talking about it, whether it’ll be a ban or a tweak. There’s going to be some movement. Let’s hope it’s done on a common sense basis because sport generally, not just Matchroom, but many sports actually survive based on gambling sponsorship.