Global Lottery Monitoring Systems (GLMS) has urged industry stakeholders to ‘take strong action to protect themselves’ against the risks associated with unregulated sponsorships.
Publishing ‘A study of betting operators and their sponsorship of sport’, GLMS aimed raise awareness of the ‘scope and scale of betting sponsorships’.
Its research aims to ‘illustrate how some betting operators exploit these partnerships with sports teams to market to customers in jurisdictions (particularly in Asia) where most online betting is illegal18 or where the national jurisdiction practices prohibition’.
Within the study, GLMS urged both national and global sports bodies to implement new rules governing gambling sponsorships, which will be in addition to those provided by national gambling regulators.
GMLS also recommended that official governing bodies of all sports should ‘review and set their own rules on sponsorships and marketing involving betting operators and non-local sponsors, while conducting their own due diligence regularly to ensure compliance’.
Localisation of sponsorship agreements was also among the recommendations made by GLMS, with the integrity body emphasising that ‘any form of display or labelling in stadiums or on shirts should be permitted only in appropriate local languages or forms of text’.
Penalties should also be considered for clubs found to be in breach of betting sponsorship rules according to GLMS, while awareness raising programs should also be put in place for administration of competition organisers and team sponsorship employees to better understand the various risks associated with betting sponsorships.
GLMS said: “There is an increasing trend of betting sponsorships on sports – on shirts, at stadiums, in marketing materials and being affiliated betting partners of the teams and even the competitions. The growth of these sponsorships, as evident in the elite football and basketball competitions, might bring short-term financial gains to the teams.
“However, integrity risks and impacts might arise when the unregulated betting operators could ride on sponsorships or marketing deals to advertise their brands and products in overseas markets where betting is illegal and advertising of it may be restricted.
“Online illegal betting platforms are increasingly sophisticated, the ‘face’ of illegal operators is becoming legitimized through sponsorships of sports teams. It also involves offshore betting conducted by non – or low – tax paying and unregulated operators, leading to confidence and integrity in sports being compromised. If any of the betting sponsorships are linked to illegal operators, illegal betting or organised crime, it could also damage reputation and public trust in sports and sports development is stunted.
“Official governing bodies and teams should carefully weigh up the pros and cons of having their valuable brands associated with potentially disreputable partners, especially the grey- and black-market betting operators, and conduct extensive research into potential partners to avoid such risks.”