Gambling Comission Advice To Football Sponsors
9/25/09 – The spate of football sponsorship deals between online gambling firms and UK football teams appears to have prompted the UK Gambling Commission to issue an advisory note this week.
The advisory informs that sports sponsorship falls within the definition of advertising in Section 327(2)(a) of the Gambling Act 2005, and that such deals raise two principle issues:
a) Whether foreign gambling providers may advertise within Great Britain and;
b) The need to comply with the gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising.
Under section 331 of the Act, it is an offence to advertise foreign gambling. Any gambling operator who wishes to advertise within Great Britain must be licensed and regulated in either an EEA state (for the purposes of the Act, Gibraltar is considered an EEA state), or one of the states that have been approved by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the UK government’s white list (currently Antigua & Barbuda, Alderney, the Isle of Man and Tasmania).
If a gambling sponsor does not meet one of these licensing criteria they are not permitted to advertise in Great Britain and clubs may not carry their branding.
This should also be borne in mind when hosting international competitions. Care should be exercised to ensure that visiting teams’ sponsors are permitted to advertise within Great Britain, because the advertising of a gambling sponsor on a visiting club’s branded shirts will constitute an offence under section 331 if that sponsor does not meet the licensing criteria.
The second issue is with the branding of children’s replica kits. The gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising covers this issue and states at paragraph 33 that:
"The advertising of adult-only gambling products or product suppliers should never be targeted at children. This applies equally to sponsorship and this code requires that gambling operators will not allow their logos or other promotional material to appear on any commercial merchandising which is designed for use by children.
"A clear example of this would be the use of logos on children’s sports shirts which in future would not be permitted under the terms of this code.
"Children’s shirts and other merchandise will be defined as those that do not attract VAT.
Two recent cases reported by InfoPowa illustrate the general advertising principles involved:
Swiss authorities recently prevented Real Madrid FC from displaying the Bwin logo in a UEFA away match in Switzerland. A statement on the football club's website advised:
"The Swiss authorities only allow gambling to be advertised when they are state-owned companies.
And in the UK, the Gambling Commission directed that Cardiff FC could not display new sponsor 777ball's branding until the Asian facing sportsbook had
obtained a licence enabling them to advertise their services within the European Economic Area.