Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, one of the world’s largest stock exchange listed gaming businesses has been ordered to stop its advertising and its sponsorship of Portuguese sporting events since a Portuguese court ruled that its activities were illegal.Bwin.Party Digital entertainment was formed in 2011 when PartyGaming PLC and Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG merged to form the world’s largest online gaming company. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has its headquarters in Gibraltar. The company is regulated and licensed in several regions including Gibraltar, Alderney, Italy and France.Bwin.Party sponsors the Taca da Liga in Portugal but given the recent court order to cease all sponsorship and advertisement the deal between Bwin.Party and the Portuguese Football League worth 4 million euros over three years could now be under threat. However the Portuguese Football League plans to appeal this decision which could have a very negative effect on the future of football in the country. Bwin.Party says that the ruling will be respected but that it could prove to be in breach of European law.
In 1999 the Portuguese League for professional Football took over the two national leagues and called this the Premier League (Primeira Liga) which is the leading professional football division. The January 2012 court decision has its roots in a previous court case from 2005 when the Portuguese Casino Association and the national lottery operator Santa Casa da Misericordia claimed that they had exclusive rights to gaming in Portugal. They also claimed that since Bwin.Party didn’t pay taxes in Portugal or wasn’t subject to Portuguese gaming laws that it had an unfair advantage over them.
This ruling could have an effect on other sponsorship deals between online gaming operators and sports clubs in Portugal. Both BetClic and Betfair are involved in sports sponsorships in the Portuguese market.
Bwin.Party’s lawyer has stated that “It is time for the state to legislate and tax online gambling instead of banning it. Regulating it is in the interest of the consumer, the economy and the state budget.” If this were to happen in Portugal the players in the Portuguese Premier League could once again don Bwin.Party emblazoned jerseys and the name Bwin could be again seen on advertisements linked to sporting events.