Maidstone United have become the first National League club to seek a ban on all football gambling advertising and sponsorship.
The Stones join 30 clubs across the UK and Ireland, including Luton Town, Tranmere Rovers, Forest Green Rovers, Glasgow City, Billericay Town, Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers, to support The Big Step – a campaign led by people harmed by gambling and part of the Gambling with Lives charity, set up by families bereaved by gambling-related suicide.
Chief executive Bill Williams said: “I remember a time when the tobacco industry dominated sports advertising and sponsorship.
“For the reasons that were banned for the impact on physical health, I can foresee the same happening here for the impact it can have on a person’s mental health.
“I wish those behind The Big Step the best in achieving their goals.”
Long-awaited gambling reforms have been delayed time and time again as bad practices by gambling companies continue to dominate the headlines.
Earlier this week it was discovered that EFL clubs had benefited directly from their own fans’ losses on Sky Bet as part of the league’s sponsorship deal.
The revelation came days after Betway was fined £400,000 for featuring clickable gaming adverts on the children’s section of West Ham’s website.
Gambling harm affects millions of people across the UK, while the industry spends £1.5billion each year on marketing. Public Health England estimates that there are 409 gambling-related suicides in England each year.
James Grimes, founder of The Big Step and former addict to the game, said: “We are delighted to have the support of Maidstone United, the first National League club to support our campaign – particularly in the week when we learn the clubs in our Football League take a share of fan losses to Sky Bet.
“This announcement from Maidstone restores faith in football to those of us who have been harmed by the game.
“There are now 30 clubs calling for an end to all gambling advertising in football and the government must learn from these laudable examples of clubs at all levels of football obviously surviving without gambling advertising revenue. ‘silver.
“Football is watched by young fans at all levels and that is why the government needs to act urgently.”