The sports betting industry saw unprecedented growth in the last 15 years, fueled by new technologies that make betting easier and safer. But, it all comes with a cost. One of the first projects that the Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs has focused on regulating is the advertising of betting houses and online casinos across the sports industry. Being the most affected one, the teams that received large amounts of money from their “sponsors”: online casinos and bookmakers.
The somewhat unexpected news hit very hard especially the Spanish First and Second Division clubs. This is why the Government has granted them a “Free-Pass” for a few months, understanding that the immediate cancellation of millionaire sponsorships could lead to bankruptcy, especially to clubs that were already in a delicate economic situation.
If we talk specifically about football, new casino companies, and online bookmakers currently sponsor 76.2% of the Spanish First and Second Division teams. Out of those teams, only ten teams do not have any kind of agreement with betting companies. Taking that into account, we can assume that the measure will be a major hit to the Spanish football industry, but other sports, such as basketball, will not come out unscathed either.
First Division teams, such as Valencia, Sevilla, Club Atlético Osasuna, Levante, Real Betis, Deportivo Alavés, Granada, and Cádiz, currently have a betting-related-company as the main sponsor.
Many others, such as Athletic Club, Barcelona, Celta de Vigo, Elche, Real Madrid, Club Atlético de Madrid and Villareal have them as a secondary sponsor. Only Éibar, Getafe, Huesca, Real Sociedad and Valladolid have no affiliation with betting companies.
The ban of “betting-related advertisements” includes advertising on T-shirts, billboards, stadiums, and in television sports segments will be broadcasted only from one to five in the morning. The Spanish minister of Consumer Affairs, Miguel Garzón, acknowledges that: “Until now, there has been no regulation in the advertising of the game. Until now we have been living under the law of the jungle, where anything is possible”.
According to experts, this limited advertising timeframe, will nearly end ads on radio or television as we know it. Likewise, famous people, such as athletes or other public figures, may not be part of these advertisements. We are going to miss Neymar and Cristiano in the poker room advertisements.
Spain is not the only country where they are trying to curb this “law of the jungle.” Last December, the British Executive also shifted its focus on regulating online betting and casinos and is considering banning advertising and sponsorship of this type across the entire sports sector. This will have an even more significant impact on the income of a significant percentage of sports clubs. Not to mention that we are already facing a rather delicate context in the economic plane. Many brands and companies that also rely mostly on advertisements, manifested their concerns with these new measures with the intent to ease the restrictions and keep the smaller clubs afloat.