Monday, April 24, 2006
Online betting company in controversial soccer shirt sponsorship

The Austrian online bookmaker BetandWin has reached agreement with renowned Italian soccer club AC Milan to become shirt sponsor in a four-year deal worth up to €60m (US$74m). This agreement may be incomprehensible for many, as the same company has recently been put on the government’s black list of companies that offer illegal services.

Only one month ago, the Italian government issues a law, which aims to enforce the prohibition on online gambling by fining internet service companies that transmit contents of unauthorised online betting companies. It issued a black list of such unauthorised companies that included the name of AC Milan’s new shirt sponsor.

Although the soccer club has some international exposure, the vast majority of its matches are on Italian soil and only watched by Italian consumers. The shirt sponsorship therefore is mainly targeted at Italian consumers.

The agreement illustrates the inconsistency of the authorities in Italy and various other countries where online betting is illegal but where the advertising for it is tolerated. It also suggests that the recent law that blacklists companies and tries to block internet traffic has apparently little effect.