FA urged to reconsider deal with betting website

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The UK's Football Association (FA) has come under fire for its decision to allow Bet365 to broadcast FA Cup matches, despite promising two years ago that it would end gambling partnerships.

The deal, agreed in 2017 through third party IMG, has attracted widespread criticism and a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the FA "should reconsider" it.

'It was entirely a decision for us, but I have been in touch with the FA and they welcomed our decision'.

A report carried out by the Daily Mail found that coverage of 23 of the 32 FA Cup third-round ties that took place last weekend were accessible via the bet365 website on the conditions that customers staked a bet or signed up for a new account with a £5 deposit.

The seven bookmakers that hold sole domestic rights to stream FA Cup matches not shown by the BBC or BT Sport have agreed to offer them to a platform which can be viewed for free.

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Sports minister Nigel Adams addressed the issue via Twitter, stressing the need to be mindful of the problem gambling can have on the most vulnerable.

In a statement on behalf of the companiesm, Brigid Simmonds, the chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: "Our members did not seek exclusivity for the rights to screen FA cup games".

"They are therefore happy for IMG to offer the rights to screen these games to the Football Association or another appropriate body so the games can be viewed for free by the public with immediate effect".

The offer from the UK's Betting and Gaming Council on behalf of Bet365, Betfair, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Unibet and William Hill comes amid a public furore over the streaming offering by United Kingdom bookmakers. The agreement that runs until 2024 was inked by the Football Association surprisingly, after several years ago the football governing body of the United Kingdom announced a decision to end all of its gambling operator sponsorships.

In July 2017, the FA announced it was cutting its ties with gambling firms, but the deal with IMG was made in January 2017.

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"This arrangement is not exclusively through Bet365". Leagues and clubs continue to govern their own relationships with gambling companies.

Boris Johnson led a number of MPs in criticing the FA for allowing this to happen. They will not be renewing this deal when it comes up.

"I would urge all other sporting bodies to look at their broadcast agreements".

As part of a wider discussion regarding betting in the United Kingdom, support was given by MPs for reform of the Gambling Act passed in 2005, which liberalised regulation in the industry, prompting a deluge of betting deals across the English game.

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