A review of UK gambling laws launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) could have a major impact on the esports industry.
The review will cover marketing and advertising of gambling in sport, and could lead to a ban on gambling companies sponsoring sports teams and events, including sponsorship on uniforms, team-wear, apparel and merchandise in a bid to address gambling-related issues within UK society. While the original focus of the DCMS’s review was on sports betting, the call for evidence has made it clear that DCMS is considering “the positive or negative impact of gambling sponsorship arrangements across…esports and other areas”, leaving little doubt that any recommendations could also have a significant impact within both the esports and esports betting industries.
Whilst a number of publishers, such as EA and Epic, have strict rules around the advertising and promotion of gambling companies already, other publishers such as Valve are more accommodating. Consequently, there are a number esports organisations and tournaments have gambling sponsors, including:
- Fnatic’s CS:GO team (Parimatch)
- Dignitas’ CS:GO team (VIE.gg)
- Godsent CS:GO (Betsafe)
- BLAST Premier (Betway)
Consequently, a potential ban on gambling sponsors could have a significant impact on some teams and tournaments. A ban could also have effect esports organisations around the world, as teams may be required to remove any reference to their betting sponsors if, and when, they are competing in the UK.
With the call for evidence concluding on 31st March 2021, make sure to follow Josh and Fladgate for further updates on the effects of the DMCS’ review for gambling sponsorship in the esports industry.
For details on some of the steps teams and sponsors should be taking, feel free to get in touch with Joshua Bennett and Alan Wetterhahn at Fladgate.
Fladgate have a wealth of experience in the sports and esports sectors, delivering commercially focused, practical solutions to a wide range of legal issues. Our clients include sports professionals and teams, organising and governing bodies, and sponsors and agents. We have advised on a number of world games and other major sporting events and have considerable experience of acting for rights holders and hosts in respect of single venues or events with venues in multiple cities or countries.