His gambling was woven into his day. A weekday in his early retirement years would see this 66-year-old cycle three miles to the nearest town to buy a newspaper. The Irish Press would be brought back home and read over breakfast. The racing pages would be studied in great detail. It would begin by an examination of the previous day’s results so as to confirm how badly some of his choices had performed. Then it was on to selecting that day’s runners. Later in the morning he would again mount the bicycle and cycle back into town to place his bet. Another six mile round trip to place a bet that would be denominated in pennies. Twelve miles cycling before lunch to engage in a pastime.
The financial losses were tiny and they had no impact on my grandmother or the fourteen children they reared. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. The damage that gambling can do is one of the reasons that the UK government is considering regulations to limit the links between sport and gambling. It could mean that betting enterprises are no longer able to advertise on the jerseys of Premier League teams. Understandably, sports organisations are worried about the potential loss of a revenue source.
A few months ago I heard about the proposal and I started to look for the advertising in sports broadcasts – mainly Premier League games. However, it was not long before I lost interest in the gambling firms and became fixated with the number of tyre companies advertising on Premier League jerseys and around Premier League grounds. Nexen and Yokohama can be found on the shirts of two of the top-4 teams. On the advertising hoarding you will find Apollo and Tomket at a number of grounds (and frequently advertised in the same ground). Kuhmo is another brand. Davanti advertise prominently behind the Italian manager on Merseyside.
It seemed to me that Hankook had some sponsorship deal linked to the Europa League. However, I noticed that it was a different tyre that appeared on the hoarding in the San Siro when AC Milan hosted Manchester United. When Inter play in the San Siro then it is Pirelli that dominates.
As a more traditional economist, my default position is that the advertisers know what they are doing (while accepting that this may not be the case). I presume they have examined the audience figures and determined that this is an efficient use of advertising funds. But I’m struggling to imagine how my grandfather’s betting on horses, and his choice of bicycle tyres, would have changed if he was exposed to the current level of advertising.