Proposals to suspend gambling advertising ban in Italy, Belgium saw many new bettors during Euros
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Italy. Get sponsors back!
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has asked the country’s government to suspend the gambling sponsorship ban as soon as possible. The ban was implemented in January, 2019 though deals in place prior to this date were allowed to run their course. Now the FIGC asks the government to suspend the gambling advertising ban for at least two years until June 2023 to allow the clubs to deal more easily with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposal includes creating a “Football savings fund”. This will mean that 1% of all bets placed in Italy both online and via retail shops will be transferred to the national fund controlled by FIGC. The fund’s resources will be used for financing football projects across the country.
FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said that the proposal should be implemented as soon as possible. He considers that it should be done before football is submerged in the financial crisis. He also mentioned that the Federation hasn’t asked for money from the government, but instead they want to allow the clubs to search for more possible sponsors.
Ivan Kurochkin’s comments
The FIGC proposal to remove the shirt sponsorship ban seems reasonable since the monetary effect from this type of marketing has a serious impact on football clubs; for instance, the yearly amount of income received by the UK’s English Premier League and Championship clubs from their sponsorships deals was estimated at £110m (interestingly, this figure was calculated to be used in the discussion around banning gambling related shirt sponsors in the UK).
It would be great to see Italian government supporting this proposal since there are not that many revenue streams for football clubs and the dent caused by the pandemic is unquestionably very large.
However, practically the same “financial impact” argument could be applied by the Italian government in case they decide to refuse FIGC proposal: Italian people were affected by the pandemic as well and the players themselves are certainly a much more vulnerable category than football clubs.
At the same time we also would like to note that, in our view, combining a sensible proposal to suspend the shirt sponsorship ban with the proposal to create a designated football support fund financed from each bet made in Italy is a risky strategy. It is possible, some would say likely, that the latter proposal to set up a “Football savings fund” will be denied because this may affect the Italian gambling industry as a whole. It would be very unfortunate if in denying this the lifting of the ban on the shirt sponsorship is also denied, even though on its own it may have had enough support.
Germany. Oh, Germany…
Operator Bet-at-home said that changes in regulatory rules in its core Germany market had led to an 8,8% revenue decline during the first half of the financial year. The revenue amounted to €56,8 million, down from €62,3 million in the previous year. Bet-at-home began operating under a new German license in February, 2021. This had a negative impact because the company had to adjust to the new regulations.
According to the new regulations, customers are limited to a monthly betting limit of €1,000, though a small number of customers may have their limits increased to €10,000 or €30,000.
In addition to this, deposits are limited until players pass certain verification checks, while licensees also have to integrate with the national self-exclusion system OASIS and betting markets must be approved by the Regional Council. In-play betting, meanwhile, is now limited to markets on the final result or next scorer.
Ivan Kurochkin comments
Oh, Germany. Everybody who was seeking legal stability in the German market has finally obtained it, but the cost of this stability seems to have turned out to be too high.
In other words, news of Bet-at-home’s revenues decline is certainly not surprising and continues the overall trend of the financial results in this market; for instance, Entain has reported a decline caused by the new strict regulations as well. After a long period of Fourth Interstate Treaty discussion and adoption, it could be argued that the industry is united in the view that in the end the new German regulations they came up with are too severe.
Implementation of a new regulatory framework is always tricky since the cornerstone of this task is finding the balance between three interconnected counterparts: the players (who obviously needs to be protected), the government (which needs to bring revenues into the state budget by regulating gambling industry) and the operators (who need to be able to establish financially sustainable operations).
Failure to achieve this balance will put the government back to square one; weak regulated market leading to a strong unregulated (black) market, which, in turn, leads to an increase of gambling-related harm caused to the players.
It is still too early to make any conclusions with regard to the German market in light of its new regulatory regime — only time will tell what the outcome will be of implementing this stringent approach; the most interesting part though is whether the German government would be able to back down and remove some of the restrictions should the anticipated effect from new market regulations be not achieved.
Belgium. 100 000 new players
According to a report by Belgium's gambling regulator (CJH), the number of new Belgian players increased by more than four times during Euro 2020. The number was 36 418 from June 11 to July 11, while there were only 8 846 new players in May. The figures include all the types of gambling. Euro 2020 had concluded before the government lowered weekly deposit limits from €500 to €200.
103,511 new accounts were created the week before and during Euro 2020, while the number of daily players averaged out to 191,434. This figure shot up from 132,818 back in May. 497,047 players visited legal operators' websites during the Euro competition. Players tended to bet more when the Belgian national football team were playing. The number of daily players peaked at 281,923 for Belgium’s match with Finland. The average dropped to 138,591 the day after Belgium were eliminated from the competition.