Ban on child football shirts with gambling ads

Gambling adverts will be banned from being printed on children's replica football shirts under new guidelines unveiled by the Government.

After the Ban on child football shirts with drink ads now gambling adverts will be banned from being printed on children's replica football shirts under new guidelines unveiled by the Government.

Controversial new laws taking effect from September 1 will allow bookmakers, casinos and gambling websites to advertise on British television for the first time. But under a voluntary code of conduct agreed by the gambling industry to ease criticism of Labour's sweeping relaxation of betting legislation, they will not be shown before the 9pm watershed - when youngsters should have gone to bed.

However, Culture Secretary James Purnell has infuriated anti-gambling campaigners by exempting sporting events screened earlier in the day - such as football and cricket matches and horse racing. In return, betting firms will remove logos from children's replica sports kits - including shirts sold by Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa, who all have gambling sponsors.

The move will be seen as a U-turn by the Government which recently caved in to campaigners' concerns of a gambling epidemic by axing plans for a Las Vegas-style super-casino in Manchester. But critics said the safeguards were insufficient and would not prevent vulnerable people being dragged into the chaos of problem gambling. A Salvation Army spokesman said: "This is a welcome step but doesn't go far enough as one of the social groups most prone to problem or illegal gambling is teenagers, many of whom will wear adult-sized replica shirts."

Football clubs have demanded clarity over the definition of a children's shirt. One official said: "We serve plenty of oversize kids who need an adult size. We don't want them to become walking billboards, however slow-moving, for gambling firms." Mr Purnell thrashed out the agreements with the gambling industry after warning that it must take action to avoid abuses of the overhaul of gambling advertisement or face legislation.

A Whitehall source said: "He met with the industry and made it clear that if they didn't introduce the watershed restrictions then he would. "The prospect of online gambling ads during Coronation Street were a step too far. He said he would allow exceptions but it will be kept under review."

There will be no restrictions on the number of TV advertisements from casino operators and gambling firms appearing after 9pm. However, gambling adverts - which will be policed by the Advertising Standards Authority - must not link the activity to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.

They must also not feature people under 25 or suggest that betting can solve financial problems. Mr Purnell said he was "pleased" the industry was publishing the code of conduct - even though it was not binding. He said: "The protection of people and the vulnerable is the top priority. We will be watching closely to see how it operates."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is due to announce a list of properly regulated gambling websites based abroad - leading to advert bans on websites based outside the EU.

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