Premier League Strikes a Blow Against Sports Betting

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The English Premier League decided to limit sponsorship of its clubs by bookmakers. What was the cause and how is Latin America dealing with this problem?.

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Photo: Premier League, Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Javier Aldana

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Leer en español: Premier League asentó duro golpe contra las apuestas deportivas

Sports betting has taken on great relevance in recent years, to the point of controlling the sponsorship of clubs and even entire leagues. However, what is considered by many to be the best league in the world decided to limit the exposure of these games of chance in its competition. For this reason, 18 of the 20 Premier League clubs have decided to ban the sponsorship of bookmakers on the front of their shirts, despite the fact that eight clubs are affected.

Said sponsorships may continue to be displayed on the sleeves of the shirts, on the LED billboards of the stadiums and on the web pages. However, by removing their location in the most visible part, they will lose relevance and visibility. On the other hand, the measure will come into force at the end of the 2025-2026 season so that the affected clubs (Bournemouth, Brentford, Everton, Fulham, Leeds, Newcastle, Southampton and West Ham) have time to finalize their contracts and find new sponsorships outside of sports betting.

Why Did the Premier League Limit Bookmakers?

The English league observed how the million-dollar contracts of the bookmakers gained great relevance, visibility, and power in the competition. It was even rumored that the bookmakers were preparing an investment of 15,000 million euros over the next few seasons. For this reason, both the Premier League and some leaders in the United Kingdom decided to put a stop to this activity. First, to make sure that sports betting doesn't take over the competition in every way.

However, the main reason for the limitation is concerns about the risk of gambling in Premier League viewers. First, because sports betting is displayed to the 15 million people who attend the stadiums of the English league each year and to the 3.2 billion people who watch it on television each season. For this reason, the Premier League acted before the British Government reviews the negative impact on society due to the relationship between competition and sports betting.

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The English league decided to anticipate any process detrimental to the competition and acted immediately. “The announcement follows an extensive consultation involving the League, its clubs and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport as part of the Government's ongoing review of current gambling legislation. The Premier League is also working with other sports to develop a new code for the sponsorship of responsible gaming," the league itself said in a statement.

Bookmakers in Latin America

The Premier League dealt a heavy blow against sports betting, something that is far from happening in the Latin American leagues. First, because the proliferation of bookmakers in each country is increasing rapidly. For example, in Brazil alone there are more than 450 betting houses that are awaiting government regulation, which would imply a tax payment and registration that would serve to create a verification and supervision committee. For now, bookmakers have a presence in 19 of the 20 Brasileirão teams, excepting only Cuiabá.

Likewise, in Colombia excessive liberties are also given to bookmakers, despite being regulated by Congress since 2016 when creating the entity Coljuegos. Said regulation is focused on the operation of bookmakers and taxes they must pay. However, they are lenient with the game promotion rules, since even the first division is sponsored by a bookmaker, coming to be called Liga BetPlay Dimayor. Consequently, said sponsorship exhibits sports betting to all spectators in the country. Likewise, for many people, said sponsorship calls into question the transparency of the competition.

Argentina also joined the countries whose league has a betting house as its official sponsor. There, in March 2023, the Argentine Football Association and Bplay agreed to sponsor the AFA Professional Football League. On the other hand, the Mexican professional leagues also entered the trend of being sponsored by a bookmaker s: Caliente, which also entered as a sponsor of the Mexican National Team. In contrast, in Chile bookmakers are currently fighting for the regulation of their activity, because with the current legislature they are considered illegal.

In Latin America, there are several countries that still do not have regulatory laws for betting houses. In the same way, there are many countries that implemented too permissive rules. These activities are even present in the broadcasts of the matches with paid advertisements. The negative impact on society and the transparency of competitions are strongly compromised in Latin America. There, the organizations are refusing to follow the example of Italy in 2018, Spain in 2020 and England in 2023, where action was taken to regulate said activity, protecting its spectators and their product.