AFC Wimbledon back campaign to end gambling advertising in football

Responsible Gambling

We’re proud to become the latest club to back The Big Step campaign in its efforts to end all gambling advertising in football.

The 35th club to support the campaign, we made the decision after consulting with members of The Dons Trust.

A total of 79 per cent of the 1,199 participating members backed the move, joining clubs including Luton Town, Bolton Wanderers, Forest Green Rovers and Tranmere Rovers, in making a stand against gambling advertising.

Johnnie Jackson said: “If you look at gambling and the damage it causes – the stats around suicides in particular – it’s touched a lot of people and probably more than we realise.

“The fact that so many people voted it through shows just how prevalent the problems around it are and how much people are affected by it, whether it’s themselves or the people around them. The more awareness around gambling you can create, the better.”

Tom Fleming, Communications Manager at Gambling with Lives and The Big Step, said: “We’re thrilled to have the backing of Wimbledon and their owners – the fans. Gambling advertising is unhealthy and unpopular so the Club’s decision is welcome good news, following the sharp rise in high-profile players harmed by gambling. We’re sure that if it were down to the fans of each club, no club would partner with a gambling company. 

“Despite young fans being bombarded with relentless gambling adverts while watching their heroes, this year has shown that football is incapable of self-regulating. We still hope the government will take control and end gambling advertising in football, but in the meantime it’s so important that clubs like AFC Wimbledon have taken a stand to protect their fans.”

The announcement comes at a time when gambling’s relationship with football is under increasing scrutiny, following the high-profile cases of players including Ivan Toney, Harry Toffolo, Sandro Tonali, and Lucas Paqueta – all are either under investigation or serving a ban for breaking gambling regulations.

Michele Little, Dons Trust Board member, said: “As a club at the heart of our community, we are committed to being a force for good. We took the decision some time ago not to accept gambling advertising or sponsorship as a club. Now with the backing of our owners – the fans – we’re signing up to The Big Step and saying that it’s time to end the harm that gambling advertising in football causes.”

The Big Step campaign is part of Gambling with Lives, a charity set up by families bereaved by gambling-related suicide. A 2023 Office for Health Improvement and Disparities study estimated there are up to 496 suicides related to gambling every year in England alone. 

Earlier this year, the Premier League announced it will phase-out front-of-shirt gambling sponsors by the 2026/27 season. But a government whitepaper on gambling reform, published in April, took no action on gambling advertising in football despite a recent study finding that up to 3,500 gambling logos were visible during a single televised Premier League game – only seven per cent were on the front of shirts.

Another study found that fans received 11,000 gambling messages during the opening weekend of the Premier League season in August.