The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014: A Squeeze on Sports Sponsorship

    May 2015

    The sponsorship of English Premier League football clubs by remote gambling operators is a multi-million pound business; at least 15 teams in the 2014/15 season are sponsored by Asian gambling companies, with four teams featuring foreign betting companies on their playing shirts.  Many more advertise remote providers in match day programmes and on their perimeter boards and websites.

    However, with the advent of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 (the “2014 Act”), commentators have advised that this may soon be a thing of the past. Their comments stem primarily from the UK Gambling Commission’s recent guidance on the 2014 Act, which provides that only remote operators that hold full operating licences with the Commission will be allowed to advertise their sponsorship of sports organisations in the UK.

    But is this squeeze on sponsorship really the effect of the new law and is the position that has been adopted by the Commission consistent with what the law actually provides? These are not merely academic questions given the amount of money that such sponsors are keen to bring to English football.

    * This article originally appeared in Sports Law Administration & Practice December 2014 (Vol. 21, No. 6), on page 12.