Last week’s news that the 16 German states have finally agreed on making some changes to the sports betting laws means that SBC’s Betting on Football conference on 3-5 May at Stamford Bridge is a perfect platform to discuss what the implications are for the market.
One of the sessions at Betting on Football is focusing on the development of the German industry and also taking a closer look at the German Bundesliga and the main sponsorship deals of clubs in the league.
As well as a presence from German operators including Mybet CEO Markus Peuler and Gausellmann Board Member Alexander Martin, there will be club representatives from VfL Wolfsburg and affiliates such as LuckyLabz and Baybets.
Mybet CEO Peuler, noted: “While Germany may seem underdeveloped compared to the UK or the Scandinavian countries, it already is a huge sport betting market and it is great to see, that regulation is on the way – however it might look in the end.
“So now is a good time to discuss the opportunities in the market and how we as an industry can best serve the German customer. Being at Betting on Football 2017 will facilitate this and the German panel is an excellent addition in a strong line up of sports betting industry sessions.”
Of the past five Champions League finals, German clubs have featured three times. Despite this, when it comes to shirt sponsorships the Bundesliga is severely worse off in comparison with the Premier League. On average an EPL club earns £11m from its main shirt sponsorship compared to £5.5m in the German top flight.
Another notable comparison is that, in 2016, ten Premier League clubs have a betting operator donning the front of their shirts. There is only one in the Bundesliga.
Of course the sponsorship figures are somewhat skewered by the big name teams; Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal’s deals are worth £153m yearly compared to the £68m that the top three deals in Germany (Bayern, Dortmund and Wolfsburg) bring in.
So who brings the money in the Bundesliga? The big hitters of Bayern Munich are sponsored by Gazprom, whilst everybody’s favourite team in yellow Dortmund have a deal in place with energy and chemical corporation Evonik. The traditional sponsors of Volkswagen continue to support Wolfsburg, whilst Red Bull now feature prominently via league newcomers and surprise package RB Leipzig.
It’s Hertha Berlin that have a major partnership with a bookmaker in the form of bet-at-home; this deal will run until at least 2018 and is reportedly with €6 million. So with an increasingly popular and competitive league that features some of the best talent worldwide, why aren’t the bookmakers getting involved?
Well the fact is they are and have been, as much as regulations have allowed them to over the years. Bundesliga clubs have long been able to have an ‘Official Betting Partner’ but the far more valuable front shirt sponsorship has been a no go zone.. That is unless you happen to be a state owned betting company. This is due to the complicated regulatory laws surrounding sports betting in Germany.
The past decade has been a confusing and complex minefield where this is concerned. Back in 2006, the German High Court made the decision not to break up the state monopoly which, at this time, was controlled by OddSet. This decision proved a distinctly unpopular one, with the likes of the German National Football Association lamenting a missed opportunity for opening the market up to private companies in Europe and beyond.
The immediate repercussions saw an assumedly lucrative deal with Bwin for Werder Bremen scrapped as this was no longer within the rules of the league. Fast forward to 2012 and the European Union got involved. The result was the Interstate Gambling Treaty, and something of a compromise, with an agreement by the German Interior Ministry that 20 licences would be issued by the state.
The race duly began with 41 companies applying but by the end of 2013 the German state boldly revealed that not a single one had been successful. The companies were told to reapply by spring of 2014. Fast forward to March 2017, and the German Bundestag approved a second treaty on gambling. This allowed a ‘transitional arrangement’ for bookmakers to offer services online, and saw temporary licences extended to 35 companies, and is a precursor to the revamping of the national framework which is expected in 2018. The treaty was signed despite the European Commission rejecting it and deeming it unfit for purpose. The DSWV (the German Betting Association) appealed to the government in regards to the minor amendments.
DSWV president Mathias Dahms noted: “The minimally invasive revision of the treaty is a small step in the right direction, but it falls short. The restrictive regulations for sports betting operators derive from an outdated monopoly system and have not been capable of creating an attractive and legal range of games.
“If a number of consumers continue to make use of black market products, then neither addiction nor youth and consumer protection can be ensured.”
In 2017 bookmakers and football are more intertwined than ever before. As of today, half of the clubs in the Premier League feature the name of a betting operator on their shirts. Just three years ago, there were only three clubs in this category. When it comes to the value of shirt sponsorships, the Premier League dwarfs the rest of Europe. In fact as of 2016, it’s worth more than the Bundesliga and La Liga combined. Whilst the average per club kit sponsorship in the Premier League is £5.5m higher than the Bundesliga it should too be noted that Germany’s top flight clubs earn more than their Spanish (£4.1m) and French (£3.5m) counterparts.
From the 2017/18 season the Premier League will also be allowing shoulder branding on shirts which should further increase the involvement of bookmakers and clubs’ income from it.
The trend suggests that Germany, should it want the Bundesliga to continue to compete at the highest level and remain competitive within itself, must pay attention and respond accordingly. There is money in betting which Bundesliga clubs can profit from and denying regulation and severely limiting private licences isn’t going to stop problem gambling, in fact it’s likelier to increase it.
Of course this doesn’t matter to the likes of Bayern and Dortmund, with reliable Champions League exposure they’ll always find a strong main sponsor but for the mid-table clubs, the Bremens and the Hamburgs, it’s a major loss of potential boosted income.
So what now for the Bundesliga and the future of betting brands in the space? At Betting on Football (May 3-5) at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge one of the panels will tackle exactly this topic. The German sports betting market is said to be worth in the region of £5bn, but with the aforementioned regulatory issues still rambling on, should brands invest now or wait?
VfL Wolfsburg are one of the top clubs attending the conference. Daniel Peikert, Head of Sales at VfL Wolfsburg, commented: “We are attending because, as a 100% subsidiary of Volkswagen, Vfl Wolfsburg has a big responsibility to attract serious partners.
“As the first mover in offering two different perimeter boards (one for national and one for global) we could even integrate two betting partners. Dranix for the international space, and Gauselmann AG (XTiP) for the national. We also want to prepare ourselves for virtual advertising with more betting partners. Corporate social responsibility should play a central role within these partnerships.
“The German sports betting market should be regulated soon, because betting partners are important sponsors for the clubs.”
Betting on Football is taking place at Stamford Bridge (May 3-5) and there is currently a 25% discount available. Join 800 delegates from the worlds of betting and football at the year’s most comprehensive dedicated football betting conference.