The last several years have seen wider and wider acceptance of sports gambling, especially in the U.S. after the 2018 overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA) paved the way for legalized betting on a state-by-state basis. And that’s led to an incredible increase in sports betting sponsorships, of everything from content (podcasts, shows, etc) to teams to leagues. However, in England, gambling has been an accepted part of the media landscape for a longer period, and that makes it fascinating to see the Premier League pulling back from primary jersey-front sports betting sponsorships. They did so in the wake of some other top leagues doing so, but unlike those leagues, they did so before their government told them to
Premier League clubs collectively announced they will no longer have gambling sponsorship on the front of their shirts after the 2025-26 season. https://t.co/3GQZ0JoXQC
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) April 13, 2023
Here’s more on that, from that above-linked ESPN piece by Tom Hamilton:
England’s top flight becomes the first league to make this call voluntarily — Serie A clubs have not been permitted to have gambling companies as their main shirt sponsor since fresh government laws in 2019, while LaLiga sides had the same restrictions ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
Eight Premier League clubs have gambling companies as front-shirt sponsors this season, valued at around £60 million per year. But they will have until the end of the 2025-26 campaign to phase these out, while there are no restrictions on clubs tying up new betting sponsors in the interim up until that enforced deadline.
Clubs will continue to be able to have gambling companies on the shirt sleeves of the kit and on LED advertising around on the stadiums, just not as the prominent sponsor on the front of the shirt.
The Premier League will work with other sports to develop a new code for what they call “responsible gambling sponsorship.”
There are obvious implications here for North American television broadcasts of the Premier League. Part of the value for any brand in a shirt sponsorship is increased brand awareness, so it’s certainly notable if much of that brand category shifts from betting to something else. But there are also considerations in terms of what this means for North American leagues’ shirt sponsorships. To date, only MLS has followed international soccer leagues in having sponsors take the full front of the jersey, while other leagues like the NHL, NBA, and MLB have mostly sold smaller patches and/or side/back options.
And, of course, there’s no obligation for North American leagues to follow a move from the Premier League. But it is interesting to see a step away from betting in a league that has so long featured it. And it will be worth watching to see if any similar backlash ever happens in North America.