Real Madrid names Kok Sports as Asian sports betting sponsor

10 July 2020

Beginning with the 2020-21 season, Asian sports company Kok Sports will become Real Madrid’s official sports betting sponsor in Asia, replacing China-facing operator brand ManBetX.

The deal will see Real Madrid and Ko collaborate on “unique content and interactive experiences” for the team’s fans in Asia. It will last for the next three seasons, until 2022-23

The news follows an update this week on Spain’s advertising restrictions for operators. Throughout 2020, the Spanish government has imposed a number of increasingly restrictive rules upon the gambling sector, particularly with reference to advertising.

Draft regulation published in February saw gambling advertising compared with tobacco products, with the introduction of new restrictions such as: TV and radio advertising to be allowed only between 1am and 5am, although concessions were made at that time for advertising around live sports broadcasts, which was to be allowed for events kicking off between 8pm and 5am.

As well as the timing and location of advertising, the content of operators’ promotions also came under fire. Direct inducements to gamble such as “play now “ or “bet now” were banned outright, an no information on live odds was permitted to be shred in adverts around live sports events.

It was said at the time that operators could continue to strike sponsorship deals with sports teams, albeit under severe restrictions. For example, in-stadium advertising was to be prohibited. February’s updated regulations also included a ban on using public figures to promote gambling brands.

In April, the government went on to further increase advertising restrictions, in an attempt to curb potential gambling related harm during the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The new from  saw advertising restricted completely to its 1am-5am slot, due to the lack of live sport which may otherwise have allowed some advertising from 8pm onwards.

Online advertising took a further hit, with individual email communications and direct advertising on social media both prohibited. Operators were furthermore prohibited from running acquisition or retention campaigns offering financial rewards, bonuses, discounts, free bets, odds multipliers, or, seemingly, any promotional product which may induce a customer to gamble.

Although these restrictions were temporarily lifted in June, this week the Spanish government submitted more restrictive regulatory amendments to the European Commission. The update removed the exception for advertising around live sport, meaning the vast majority TV and radio advertising must now take place between 1am-5am. The only exception made is for prize draws, which may be advertised between 10pm and 5am, provided the adverts take place around programming not suitable for under-18s.

Crucially, Spanish sports teams will no longer be permitted to display gambling operator branding on their team shirts, and operators will also be banned from purchasing naming rights to stadiums, event spaces or competitions.