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Our letter to the EFL

We are writing to you as part of The Big Step, a campaign comprised of people harmed by gambling, including those formerly addicted to gambling, and affected others, including families bereaved by gambling-related suicide.

Earlier this week, ‘Safer Gambling Week’, Sky Betting and Gaming sent an email promotion, including to many people in recovery from gambling disorder who have excluded themselves from being able to access gambling sites or receive marketing, including most of the below signatories. The subject line was “Take a peek at what your mystery bonus is” and it read: “Simply opt in, spend £5 and claim your 100 free spins. The best part? Whatever you win is yours to keep – that’s the fun in fair!”

The damage caused by this cannot be downplayed. For those of us in recovery from gambling disorder, this can trigger a relapse that could lead to serious harm to people’s wellbeing. Speaking from our personal experiences, casino games such as these are some of the gambling industry’s most dangerous products and carry devastating addiction rates.  

The consequences of sending ‘free spins’ to people trying to stop gambling and sustain their recovery are huge, with the recent Public Health England report estimating that more than 400 suicides a year in the UK are gambling-related. How much harm, indeed how many deaths, will come from this latest action from Sky Betting and Gaming?

This is not the first time Sky Betting and Gaming has breached its licence terms. In 2018, the company was fined £1m for similar transgressions, including sending promotional material to 50,000 customers. One breach is careless, two is reckless.

For these reasons, we are calling on the EFL to end its working relationship with Sky Betting and Gaming. Football is the nation’s favourite sport, and we should not be naming the English Football League after a company that treats the issue of customer safety with such contempt. 

We would welcome the chance to discuss the request further with you at the earliest possible opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

50 people harmed by gambling, on behalf of The Big Step:

Catherine Amanda

Tracey Arnstein

Bray Ash

Annie Ashton

Owen Baily

Emily Beck

Lewis Bigmore

Colin Bland

Chrissy Boyce

Dan Chandler

Danny Cheetham

Mark Conway

Susan Cox

Simon Dunk

Tom Fleming

Chris Gillham

John Gillham

Andy Gray

Leon Green

James Grimes

Will Halstead

Chris Hulse

Kevin Hulse

Tracey Hulse

Paul Isherwood

Martin Jones 

Fay Laidler

Sarah Louise

Karl McMichael

Ben Melvin

Karen Melvin

Sean Moore

John Myers

Andrew Neil

Louise Parente

Tony Parente

Martin Paterson

Mark Pickering

Ryan Pitcher

Nick Phillips

Ian Richards

Charles Ritchie

Liz Ritchie

Richard Thorpe

Rosemary Smith

Sunita Thomson

Hussain Vorajee

Lisa Walker

Steve Watts

Michael Wilson

Sam Wood

Matt Zarb-Cousin