British-based online gambling and sports betting provider Sky Bet has reportedly extended its sponsorship deal with the English Football League (EFL) by five years until 2023-24.

The deal, which EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey described as “one of the longest and most significant partnerships in professional sport”, will see the bookmaker retain its title sponsor positioning of the Championship, League One and League Two competitions. The record deal will also give Sky Bet additional rights, which include licensing to stream 18 live EFL games per season on its website and air live odds inside stadiums and more.

The new agreement extends the working relationship between the EFL and Sky Bet to 11 years and on the current deal represents a 20 percent year-on-year increase from 2019/20 until the 2023-24 season.

In addition to the sponsorship extension, Sky Bet and the EFL have signed an enhanced Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) designed to help customers of Sky Bet gamble responsibly and safely. As part of the new Sky Bet-led marketing campaign, which states, “When the fun stops. Stop,” will be prominently displayed on radio and TV and across online and print and the shirt sleeve patches of all EFL players will don a responsible gambling message.

Richard Flint, Chief Executive for Sky Betting & Gaming, added: “We’re delighted to sign this new deal with the EFL and believe the additional focus we and the League are both placing on responsible gambling will show that well run betting operators can play an active part in raising awareness of problem gambling. By using our sponsorship and marketing capabilities to highlight how customers can gamble safely we hope to ensure that nothing gets in the way of people’s enjoyment of sport, definitely not betting.”

Not everyone, however, approved of the extended deal. GambleAware, a commissioning and grant-making body which funds research, education and treatment services to aid in minimizing gambling-related harm in Great Britain, has, according to The Guardian, encouraged making use of messaging to raise awareness, however, Marc Etches, Chief Executive for the independent charity, was critical of the league’s proposed measures.

Etches said (pdf), “We are concerned about the effect further exposure to gambling will have on the younger generation,” according to The Guardian. He went on to say, “Today’s news confirms that gambling advertising in sport has now reached a tipping point and we run the serious risk of normalising an adult activity for young people. We welcome the commitment to do more to promote safer gambling, because we all have a responsibility to help protect those at risk of developing a gambling problem. However, the messaging needs to be much more explicit about the risk involved than what the gambling industry currently proposes.”

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