Gambling and Football
There is an unmistakable relationship between the beautiful game, and the act of gambling. A relationship so strong and successful one may say that they were meant for each other. It has seeped into football fan culture as well with “the odds” of almost every possible outcome in a game being discussed by fans. Being the world’s biggest sport has made football a prime market for betting companies and the likes to ply their trade, and the coalition has been massively successful for both parties to say the least. So much so that nowadays, it seems that they cannot do without the other, such that gambling and football appear inseparable. And it feels absurd when you think of a state in which they are not together.
The Dignity Decree (Decreto Dignita) is a decree that was passed and in full effect since July 2019, that prohibits gambling ads and sponsorship deals in Italy. This obviously has serious effects on football in the country, with over half of the teams in the country’s top flight division having at least one sponsorship deal with a betting company. Roma based footballing giants – SS Lazio, for example have on their shirts, their Marathonbet sponsors.
This mandate for this decree was originally birthed when the Lega/5-Star coalition were in office in 2018, as a way of introducing civil methods of conducting business in Italian society. And with this they made Italy the first European country with a gambling ban, and a strict one at that. The current Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, under a coalition between the Democratic Party and the 5-Star party upholds this decree.
It was met with “extreme worry” and disagreement from Italian football authorities when it was first proposed in July 2018. The president of Genoa, Enrico Preziosi, was particularly not happy with the mention of such a law and he labelled it “madness”. The problem with such a decree was obvious – football in Italy was going to suffer. With estimated losses being charged in hundreds of millions of euros. This was consequently going to affect the quality of teams in Serie A, and without a doubt, their influence among their footballing peers in Europe.
All these pleas of reason however fell on deaf ears as, even though the date for the passing of the new law was pushed from January 2019, it was eventually passed in July that same year. The only concession being that teams with an already existing partnership with a company from the gambling industry would see out their current contracts.
The effect of the decree has been more than massive as initial estimated figures are now being realised. These losses are being realised by the absence of the revenue that was initially released from gambling advertisements and sponsorship deals. Matters have been made worse by the long break that football has had to go on, and consequent lack of ticket sales which had been another huge source of revenue for Italian football especially in the Lega Serie A.
These effects put the league and Italian football in general at a disadvantage to their European neighbours especially. With leagues like the English Premier League already a betting advertisement behemoth for betting companies in Asia and such. And Spain’s LaLiga Santander, is also heavy on betting sponsorship deals.
However, it is the recent state of events that have mostly caused the Serie A authorities to seek a restoration of previous legislatures on betting advertisement and sponsorship deals as a means to quell the financial storm that have hit Italian football and sports in general. The idea is to pause the Dignity Decree for a 12-month period.
During this period gambling advertisements will return and revenue can be generated for the sustenance of the football association, teams, players, facilities, etc., until things are normal again. And this would also be beneficial in other sports in the country, not just football.
Other heads of sporting associations have not been left out in the fight with several stating to the government the clear and obvious need to at least put the Dignity Decree on pause to serve as an umbrella in this financial rainy period.
The chairman of the Olympic Committee in Italy, Giovanni Malagò, says: “We are in an emergency and instead of asking for money, it is appropriate to restart any potential marketing action with the betting companies. I have always been totally against the ban, which weakened our teams and our sports facilities”.
Scathing criticism has also come from other areas, like the media agency called AGCOM, who have been against the decree since inception and tagged them “unconstitutional and incompatible” with business laws.
Despite all these, the 5-Star authorities have remained adamant in their rigid anti-gambling stance in response to the request from Italian sports authorities. Francesco Silvestri said in parliament: “The 5-Star Movement has always been against gambling, as well as gaming advertising. For us, there is no way to step back from the ban.”
However, if the situation is left to move along this direction it would be detrimental for the entire Italian sports sector. And the very businesses and society whose so-called civility is being “protected” will crumble. With this in mind it feels imminent that Serie A authorities and the likes get their wish.
When they do succeed in restoring gambling sponsorship and advertisement deals, there will be a fresher feeling to the beautiful game in Italian society. Teams will be able to promote platforms like this casino online, and punters can be properly encouraged to gamble responsibly without having to cripple the sports.