The prevalence of sports betting sponsorships, advertising arrangements and general media exposure has been questioned by a German football supporters’ ‘fan alliance’, Unsere Kurve (‘Our Curve’).
In a statement released on Tuesday, the association issued two separate sets of demands targeting the country’s professional football clubs and the Bundesrat relating to sports betting sponsorship and TV advertising.
Following the passage of the Fourth Interstate Treaty on Gambling (GlüNeuRStv), the football fan group has identified the ‘increased media presence’ of sports wagering in Germany.
Outlining its concern that increased public exposure to betting advertising via sports – with both the German Football Association (DFB) and several prominent clubs maintaining betting partnerships – the group has called on authorities to “finally accept responsibility through political regulation and voluntary commitments in football”.
Unsere Kurve states that it carries the supporters interests of Bundesliga clubs Mainz, Eintracht Berlin, VFL Bochum, Armenia Bielefeld, Union Berlin and FC Cologne.
In its list of demands for sports organisations, the group has called for consistent awareness raising initiatives around sports betting risks and a joint resolution by organisations to voluntary desist from sports betting partnerships by 1 July 2022.
Similarly, Unsere Kurve has requested a prohibition of active athletes participating in sports betting be introduced from this month onwards – with professional football touted as the minimum requirement – whilst calling for 50% of income from existing contracts with operators to be directed towards state-recognised treatment and prevention programmes.
“Due to the type and placement of advertising, football fans and spectators will act as if sports betting is a natural part of football and fan culture,” the statement read.
“Advertising partners such as athletes, clubs and even the sports show or kicker give sports betting a serious image through their advertising platform and convey the message that they are harmless.
“Problematic gaming behaviour is particularly widespread among football fans. And it is precisely this that is promoted by sports betting providers, because they generate their immense profits mainly through frequent gamblers.”
The group’s political demands include a ban on sports betting advertising in stadiums, across sports related media and other ‘object-related’ areas of the sector and a ban on operators entering into partnerships with athletes, officials or other public figures.
Additionally, Unsere Kurve has called for a ‘massive expansion’ of prevention measures and contact points’ in the areas of gambling addiction, and the adoption of a new message – “Profits do not increase significantly through mature expert knowledge” – across sports betting.
“We call on politicians to immediately regulate the advertising of sports betting in public spaces more closely and to carry out intensive education and prevention,” Unsere Kurve asserted.
“We demand that football associations and clubs refrain from cooperating and sponsoring contracts with sports betting providers. In the case of existing contracts, we demand restrictions on the visibility of advertising for sports betting as well as financial participation in independent educational and prevention work.”
Unsere Kurve has pointed to developments in other countries as providing a standard for Germany’s sports clubs and politicians to follow, such as the decision by English club Bolton Wanderers to sever its ties to the sports betting industry as well as sponsorship and advertising restrictions in Italy and Spain.
The fan alliance’s stance contradicts Bundesliga club management previous criticism of the betting amendments adopted by the GlüNeuRStv regime that are deemed to have constrained clubs commercial capabilities.
In 2020, as the Bundestag finalised the GlüNeuRStv federal framework, former Bayern Munich board member Jörg Wacker lambasted the Treaty demanding that legislatures redraft the Treaty immediately as it was deemed unfit to serve Germany’s multi-billion € sports market.
Last November, DSWV – Germany’s Sports Betting Association stated that it would emphatically challenge any call for the GlüNeuRStv regime to enforce a ban on sports betting advertising.
Alongside German online casino trade body DOCV, last summer DSWV launched an EC level complaint challenging the tax regime of the GlüNeuRStv as a discriminative tax framework favouring Bundesrat subsidised land-based casino incumbents.
The DSWV warned Bundesrat that it was forced to take action against the regime, as legislatures had reverted on their promise to revise the treaty once implemented – forcing German online gambling businesses and stakeholders to accept an unworkable framework.