Open position of National Network for Children regarding the opinions of the Bulgarian Football Union and football clubs
We, National Network for Children strongly believe that the opposition to the discussed restriction of factual gambling advertising and children’s sports opportunities is speculative and attempts to manipulate public opinion. It is unacceptable for Bulgaria to be a country where children’s opportunity to play sports is paid for with wasted human lives.
Bulgaria is a country where a lot of gambling is played. We are third in Europe in terms of the share of gambling money in GDP. Over the past two years, the number of registered online betting sites in our country has grown by 170%. As it turns out, however, gambling isn’t just in the advertising we come across dozens of times a day. According to the Bulgarian Football Union, “In Bulgaria, more than two-thirds of the clubs, both professional and amateur, exist thanks to funding from the industry”.
These data of the BFS warn of the urgent need for a comprehensive policy to develop children’s sports and children’s sports clubs from an early age, together with suitable conditions for outdoor and indoor sports and games, especially in small settlements and centers of big cities. In this sense, we support the position of the Bulgarian Football Union regarding the need for a state policy to support children’s sports.
Today, more than ever, sport is starting to be inextricably linked not with health, but with gambling.
We emphasize that the prohibition of gambling advertising is first and foremost a concern for the health of children in Bulgaria. Children are a particularly vulnerable risk group in relation to gambling advertisements, which effectively present gambling as a quick way to earn money, win and be successful. The data regarding the psychological and social effect of the flooding advertising of gambling games is categorical. Gambling addiction is a disease state. The harm caused by gambling is comparable to the harm due to major depressive disorder and alcohol abuse and dependence and is significantly higher than the harm caused to an individual due to drug dependence disorder. It leads to deteriorating mental health and increased crime rates. This is why, for example, Italy banned all gambling advertising in 2018 after linking the proliferation of gambling advertising to a huge increase in the number of gambling addicts. Italy is an example of how one can develop some of the most successful football clubs and championships, as well as being in the top 5 Olympic medal winning countries for decades, without it being tied to gambling advertising.
If it is important for the gambling business to support sports and accept this as its socially responsible cause, it has no obstacle to continue to do so with or without the possibility of announcing its participation on teams with which children play. Otherwise, it is only about advertising and encouraging children to participate in betting – something that is expressly prohibited by law.
The question we have to decide today is whether we want to be a Bulgaria where we pay for sports with the pain of children and families, or we want to have a country where gambling is not a daily routine for people under 18 – but the opportunities to play sports are part of it. from each of their days.