Spain Bans Gambling Firms from Sponsoring La Liga Soccer Teams, Shirts, Stadiums

Posted on: July 9, 2020, 01:08h. 

Last updated on: July 9, 2020, 03:16h.

Spanish authorities are cracking down on gambling sponsorships in sports, implementing a ban on such arrangements in La Liga beginning in the 2020-2021 season.

La Liga gambling sponsorship ban
Valencia’s Maxi Gomez celebrates after a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in Champions League play on Sept. 17, 2019. (Image: Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Eight La Liga clubs currently sport gaming firms as their primary shirt sponsor.

Valencia and Sevilla are the most prominent teams partnered with gambling concerns, with Alaves, Leganes, Granada, Mallorca, Osasuna, and Levante also featuring gaming companies on their shirts. However, the agreement will also impact all 17 teams that have some form of sponsorship deal with betting firms.

Spain Sets Strict Gambling Ad Restrictions

The new restrictions are part of Spain’s Royal Decree on Advertising, a piece of legislation that mandates that licensed gambling companies can only advertise between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. each day. Alberto Garzon, the country’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, set down the tough new rules on clubs in La Liga, the top soccer league in Spain.

Under Garzon’s rules, gambling firms will not be able to sponsor team stadiums, equipment, uniforms, and any other aspect of a club. That expands on restrictions that already prevented such sponsorships on youth apparel.

The only small bright spot for gaming firms is the possibility of advertising on the outside of each team’s pitch. Local regulations will determine if those sideline ads can remain.

Spanish officials believe that the advertising bill will pass muster with the European Union in Brussels in time for the new regulations to apply to the 2020-2021 season. The eight La Liga teams with betting logos on their shirts have already had to block or remove those marks based on a temporary ban that began on March 31.

Real Madrid Poised to Capture La Liga Title

Like almost all sports leagues worldwide, La Liga has faced difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league suspended play on March 12, with clubs resuming matches on June 11. La Liga plans to wrap up its season on July 19.

Real Madrid currently leads La Liga with 77 points, one ahead of Barcelona at the top of the table. Real also has a game in hand over Barcelona. The SugarHouse Sportsbook lists Real Madrid as a -2000 favorite to win La Liga, with Barcelona at +700.

The issue of sports betting sponsorships has proven to be a thorny one in Europe. Earlier this year, Premier League executive Richard Masters said that he wants to protect the right of clubs to have partners from the gaming industry, even as the UK government cracks down on gambling regulation.

The whole area does need, I think, probably, slightly firmer regulation, particularly around the most vulnerable,” Masters told reporters in February. “But I don’t necessarily think that the answer should be that clubs should no longer have betting partnerships.”

However, a recent House of Lords Select Committee report on gambling disagreed with that assessment. It recommended banning gambling sponsors in the Premier League, and eventually for all soccer teams –- though it acknowledged that lower level clubs would need time to adjust to the potential loss of revenue.

“We therefore think they should be given time, perhaps three years, to adapt to the new situation,” the report said of lower level soccer clubs. “They would not be allowed in that time to enter into new sponsorship contracts with gambling companies. But any existing contracts could continue until they terminate, and clubs would have time to seek alternative sources of sponsorship.”