The Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Wurttemberg, in unison with other German states, sent a warning letter to the German Football Association (DFB) about its gambling-related partnerships. The DFB signed multi-million dollar advertising partnerships with sports betting-related companies, including Bwin.
Bwin signed a sponsorship deal with FC Cologne in August 2018 which is supposed to run through the 2020/2021 season. That was followed by the more expansive deal between the DFB and Bwin in late-January 2019. The second contract involves all DFB events and ends on December 31, 2022.
Baden-Wurttemberg is a German state with a population of 11 million people. The southwestern German state sits east of the Rhine River, but forms a border with France along the Black Forest region of Germany. It is home to cities like Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Ulm, and Baden-Baden.
Baden-Wurttemberg has three teams in the Bundesliga: SC Freiburg, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, and VfB Stuttgart. With one-sixth of the teams in Germany’s premier football league, Baden-Wurttemberg has a particular interest in any illegality involving German football clubs.
Ads for Unauthorized Gambling is Prohibited
Thus, Interior Minister Thomas Strobl took a firm stance against the Bwin partnership, stating in the letter, “Your partner Bwin offers in addition to sports betting, unfortunately, even without permission to participate in online casino and slot games….The relevant case-law leaves no room for doubt as to the illegality of such offers.”
Baden-Wurttemberg’s Interior Minister added, “Advertising for unauthorized gambling is prohibited.The gambling supervisory authorities must work to prevent illegal gambling and advertising.”
The official’s office stated that the DFB is flouting German’s anti-gambling laws with the advertising deal. While advertising for gaming groups which offer banned activities sits in a gray area under German law, the Interior Minister said, “There is a risk that the advertising of Bwin is prohibited altogether.”
DFB Sports Betting Ads
If the DFB complies, it would stand to lose millions of dollars in advertising dollars, similar to the losses sustained by Italian football clubs lost when gambling sponsorships were banned from Serie A clubs. One compromise would be to have Bwin make clear in advertisements its commercials and ad banners were sports betting related.
Sports betting is legal in Baden-Wurttemberg, though other forms of gambling are not. Germany’s national gambling laws are a bit of a mess, because any amendments require unanimous support from its 16 federal states. For years, Schleswig-Holstein’s gaming laws have deviated from most other German states’ laws.
Those inconsistencies are not likely to be resolved anytime soon. The German Football Association will need to either comply with the state’s gaming laws in full, or find some way to reach a compromise with Thomas Strobl’s department.
About the German Football Association
The German Football Association or DFB is the government body of German football. The DFB has jurisdiction over the German football league system, is a founding member of both FIFA and UEGA, and oversees both the men’s and women’s national teams.
In all, the DFB controls 21 state associations with more than 25,000 clubs and 6.8 million members, making the DFB the largest sports federation on Earth. Its sole members include the Germany Football League, which organizes the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, along with 5 regional associations, 21 state associations, and the semi-pro and amateur levels of competition.
About Thomas Strobl
Thomas Strobl is a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a center-right party which is described as “Christian democratic and liberal-conservative” — a catch-all party for right-learning voters in the center of politics. A lawyer by profession who graduated from Heidelberg University, Strobl has been in-and-out of power over the past decade and a half.
Strobl was the leader of the CDU in Baden-Wurttemberg from 2012 to 2016, trying to lead them to the center in state politics. After a 2012 defeat by the Green Party, Strobl said the Christian Democratic Union was “no longer in touch with the lifestyle of people in the cities”. He lost the regional party leadership in 2016 to Guido Wolf.
Guido Wolf lost the 2016 election to the Green Party, but helped form the The Cabinet Kretschmann II and became the Minister of Justice and European Affairs in Baden-Wurttemberg after the Green Party and Christian Democrats formed a ruling coalition. Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann is the first-ever Green Party state leader in a Green-Christian Democrat alliance.