The proposed restriction on sports sponsorship opportunities for sports betting operators, which would come into effect on January 1, 2025, also means a financial blow to the BNXT League, of which betFIRST is a naming partner, as well as to its clubs.
“Between now and the time when the legislation may come into force, there is about 4 million at risk for the league and its clubs,” states betFIRST BNXT League general manager Wim Van de Keere. “The gambling sector lives from sports betting and it is currently investing a large chunk back into the sport through sponsorship. After the adjustments to the fiscal and social statute, the problems caused by the corona crisis and the little support that followed, this would be a new blow to the sector, and already represents an existential threat to us as an organization,” Van de Keere adds.
President Ramses Braakman adds: “It is very simple, without betFIRST there wouldn’t be a BNXT League. In betFIRST we found a partner who was convinced of our project from the very first moment. The company believes in the potential of the sport in the Netherlands and Belgium and has therefore made a very conscious decision to support it in the interest of professionalizing the league in both countries.”
In a second phase of the partnership, the section on corporate social responsibility will be concretized. “There are specific plans for this,” continues Braakman. “Just as football has done in the past with their betting partner, the plan now is to start a prevention campaign from the beginning of next season within our clubs about the dangers of match fixing.”
The clubs are also watching the developments with dismay. Jurgen Vanpraet, Basketball Club Filou Ostend CEO: “As a sports club we regret the lack of consultation on the part of the government. Fiscal measures with retroactive effect, new legislation without any consultation, it does not contribute post-corona to a positive business climate for the sports economy in our country. And it is precisely the government that should ensure a stable business climate. Sports like basketball are consciously or unconsciously pushed back to semi-amateurism in this way. The fact that new measures are constantly imposed blindly and without any consultation makes it gradually unworkable to run a sports club that dares to invest in the development and training of its own young players,” adds Jurgen Vanpraet.
Bob Van Oosterhout, owner of Heroes Den Bosch: “As a sports marketer and owner of Heroes Den Bosch, I follow the developments in Belgium with great concern, which potentially poses a huge threat to top sports, the betFIRST BNXT League and therefore the individual clubs. In the Netherlands, too, a ban on advertising is in the pipeline, but sponsorship remains out of the question for the time being. And rightly so, because this support from the betting sector is absolutely indispensable for top-class sport in the Netherlands and, moreover, in my opinion there is a huge difference between the sponsorship tool and commercial advertising, in which screaming Dutch celebrities are used to encourage people to play.”
“We now want to first engage with other sports and then engage with politicians to point out the disproportionate impact of restricting sports sponsorship. A 2018 Sciensano study on gambling and money games found that 0.9 percent of the population carries a risk of gambling addiction and 0.2 percent carries a high risk. Focusing on that group rather than taking a general measure is a course of action that should be considered anyway,” concludes general manager Wim Van de Keere.