La Liga clubs told to end betting deals by end of 2020/21 season

Spain’s minister of consumer affairs appears to reject requests for longer transition.

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  • Ban could cost La Liga clubs €90m in combined annual revenue
  • Seven of the 20 Spanish top-flight clubs have shirt sponsorships with gambling brands

Spain’s minister of consumer affairs, Alberto Garzón, has sent a letter to domestic top-flight soccer clubs calling on them to end their gambling partnerships after the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

In anticipation of the previously announced new laws regarding gambling industry marketing, the letter informs La Liga clubs that their contracts with betting companies will be prohibited once the new royal decree is officially in place.

The decree, which covers all sports in Spain, impacts sponsorship deals of whatever type, be that visual branding or simply associated rights.

Seven of the 20 teams in top-flight La Liga have shirt sponsorship deals with gambling companies. These are Alavés (Betway), Cádiz (Dafabet), Granada (Winamax), Levante (Betway), Real Betis (Betway), Sevilla (MarathonBet) and Valencia (Bwin).

In the second tier, Girona and Leganés have respective principal partnerships with MarathonBet and Betway.

La Liga also has its own tie-up with Sportium, which serves as the league’s official sportsbook.

Domestic giants Real Madrid have a deal with Codere as their Spanish market betting operator but also have recently penned a contract with Kok Sports in Asia. Those overseas deals may not be impacted if the new decree follows the Italian model in allowing overseas betting sponsorships. Barcelona’s official betting partnership with 1XBet is a global deal.

With clubs already facing serious financial difficulties due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, La Liga president Javier Tebas has said teams would lose an additional combined €90 million (US$105 million) if they were forced to drop gambling deals. Tebas also called for a transition period of up to three years to help teams acclimatise, but the letter appears to reject that request.

The letter adds that betting companies sponsoring teams and athletes had contributed to the ‘normalising’ of betting which has ‘serious health and social risks’. It claims that athletes’ status as role models had led to an increase in gambling among young people aged 18 to 25, rising from 29 per cent to 40 per cent in the last four years. The amount of money spent by young people in Spain on gambling, meanwhile, had risen by 13 per cent annually.

The new decree will limit marketing content from the gambling industry on TV, radio and other video media outlets to be limited to one hour per day between 1am and 5am. The law, approved by the European Commission, would also apply a blanket ban on betting sponsorships on kits and in stadiums.

Garzón’s proposal would also extend the prohibition of using the ‘name brand or trade name of a betting operator to identify a sports facility or entertainment facility’. In addition, according to previous reports, ‘no sponsorship activities may be carried out that involve substituting or adding to the name of a team or sports competition or of any other entity outside the sector of gambling and betting, the name or commercial name of an operator’. Such a move would prohibit gambling firms taking up naming rights partnerships. 

Welcome offers to new customers could also be tightened, with a maximum amount of €100 (US$113) proposed. These will only be accessible to people who have cumulatively had an open betting account for at least one month, have had the required documents verified and made at least three deposits.

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