bwin-Real Madrid Deal Already Under Scrutiny

19 June 2007

A Spanish communications watchdog group has filed an official complaint with Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Taxes, seeking an official investigation into bwin’s recent sponsorship deal with Real Madrid FC.

The Asociación de Usuarios de la Comunicación (AUC), Spain’s primary body of communication oversight, filed the complaint in accordance with Spanish legislation that prohibits unlicensed online operators from offering services within the country's borders. The AUC believes that since such gaming operations are illegal in Spain, promoting their services through a shirt-sponsorship deal likewise violates the law.

Although Spanish authorities have been hesitant to take action against gaming companies, the exposure of the bwin logo during Sunday’s Spanish league championship between Real Madrid and Mallorca has prompted new calls for action. In addition to the AUC, calls for regulation were heard from Francisco Antonio Gonzales, president of Spain’s chief opposition party Partido Popular.

AUC’s complaint additionally named football clubs Seville and Figueres (who are sponsored by 888 and Miapuesta, respectively) and several newspapers that carry online gaming advertising as parties in violation of Spanish law.

The complaint would not be the first time a watchdog group has taken action against a football club for donning gaming-branded apparel. AC Milan, also sponsored by bwin, was fined 100,000 euro ($134,101) for wearing the name of its sponsor during Champions League quarterfinals in Germany, where advertising of unlicensed gaming companies is illegal.