FAI has lifted its ban on sports betting operators sponsoring Irish football clubs after the latest deal between League of Ireland Premier Division champion with a gambling company.
Betting Companies Can Become League Clubs’ Sponsors
The betting sponsorship ban on League clubs in Ireland won’t be extended by The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) after Shamrock Rovers Football Club signed a partnership deal with 888, an online betting company, to become its official sponsor. Official 888sport branding will appear at the Tallaght Stadium and on players’ shirts.
Paddy Power, a leading gambling company, was interested in becoming the FAI’s main sponsor, but after discussions in 2020, the association ruled out the option due to concerns about problem gambling. FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill stated that the association didn’t want to pursue a partnership with a betting operator.
Last year Dundalk FC also announced a sponsorship deal with sports betting operator, BetRegal, making it its official sponsor for the 2021 season.
League of Ireland director, Mark Scanlon, said that the clubs decide who they want to bring to the board as partners, and everyone is happy if it fits with UEFA’s regulations and FAI’s regulations. He also said that these decisions are internal matters, and every sponsorship deal goes through the board.
Sports Clubs Partnering with Betting Companies
Even though Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) voted against the practice of making sponsorship deals with gambling companies in 2018, FAI announced a sponsorship deal with SportPesa, an African betting company, in 2019. There is an ongoing dispute whether or not it is good to allow sports betting companies to form partnerships with sports clubs while there is a present issue of risk gambling in the country.
The UK government may introduce legislation that would limit partnership deals between sports clubs and betting operators. In 2017, England’s FA ended its partnership deal with Ladbrokes and announced the termination of all of its sponsorship deals with betting companies.
Growing Gambling Problem in Ireland
The New Gambling Regulatory Legislation in Ireland will likely come out this year. Irish Minister of Justice, Helen McEntee, said that the main challenges were the size, complexity, and technology in the gambling industry.
The Irish Labor Party calls for a ban on gambling advertisements, arguing that there are more than 40 000 risk gamblers in the country. According to the party’s spokesman, senator Mark Wall, the continuation of promoting sports gambling is inadvisable, while 1 in 8 gamblers becomes an addict.