League Not a Hit with Portuguese Gaming Interests

29 August 2005

Always aggressive in its advertising efforts throughout Europe, Austria-based Betandwin, outdid itself last week by inking a deal to sponsor the Portuguese Soccer League, and Portugal's gambling interests aren't too thrilled about it.

In addition to the league changing its name to "," the Betandwin logo will be displayed on the jerseys of first and second division players. The agreement also covers merchandising, media cooperation and the integration of Betandwin into the league's Web site. (Click here to read the full text of Betandwin's press release on the partnership.)

The deal isn't setting well with the Portuguese Casinos Association or the Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (Holy House of Mercy of Lisbon), a charity which holds the state monopoly for lotteries and pari-mutuel betting, as only gambling services operated by the Holy House may advertise for gambling in Portugal. Above that, the Holy House has the exclusive rights for electronic lotteries.

The Holy House told Reuters shortly after the deal was announced that it will challenge the sponsorship.

"Given what has been announced," the group stated," the gambling department of the Holy House of Mercy of Lisbon will act in conformity with and according to the law, in defense of the interests of the state."

Laurention Dias, secretary of state for youth and sports in Portugal, also advised that the contract should be dissolved as soon as possible.

But league President Valentim Loureiro said the league discussed the deal with lawyers before signing it.

"Honestly, I don't know how Betandwin works," Loureiro said. "I know it was a business that appeared and offered us funds that we agreed to."

Betandwin, meanwhile, has little to say about the contract or the ensuing challenge.

"To this point of time, neither Betandwin nor our attorneys at law have been contacted by the office of Mr. Laurention Dias or an attorney general," company spokeswoman Doris Eckner told IGN. "For this reason, you certainly understand that we are not in the position to [comment] on the basis of rumors published in various Portuguese papers."

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.