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Status: 07/14/2021 05:01 am

Increasing media advertising for sports betting is causing trouble. Bremen’s Senator for the Interior accuses the “Bild” of trivializing reporting. The drug commissioner of the federal government sees the protection of minors in danger.

Philipp Eckstein

By Philipp Eckstein, ARD capital studio

The market for sports betting and online gambling has grown rapidly in recent years. At the same time, politicians provided licenses for sports betting and the new State Treaty on Gambling for a further opening. Gambling companies are spending millions to attract new customers and the first major media companies are getting into the business. Some politicians and many gambling addiction experts are watching this with concern.

Interior Senator complains about “image”

Bremen’s Senator for the Interior Ulrich Mäurer (SPD) wrote to the German Press Council to draw attention to a “worrying, because it was deliberately trivialized” report on sports betting by the “Bild” newspaper. The newspaper reports “penetratingly and positively” on the topic, it says in the letter ARD capital studio is present.

Bremen’s Senator for the Interior Mäurer fears that “Bild” readers are putting themselves in the danger of gambling addiction.

Image: dpa

On the homepage of “Bild” there are numerous editorial articles “which depict the topic of sports betting in dazzling colors”. The readership is led to believe that “with the right tricks” and the necessary knowledge, “you can make real money”.

Mäurer particularly criticizes the fact that the “Bild” newspaper with the brand “BildBet” now offers sports betting itself. In its reporting, the newspaper is also guided by economic interests and accepts “that readers put themselves in the risk of gambling addiction.” In the end, under the “guise of press coverage”, advertising is being made that defies regulation, the letter says.

Hope for press council directive

The Bremen Senator for the Interior emphasizes that he is not only concerned with the current individual case, but rather with a general grievance that the press council should deal with. With the entry into force of the new State Treaty on Gaming on July 1, 2021, with which further online gaming offers were legalized, he expects an extreme increase in advertising and more reporting. As with drugs, the press council should therefore include a guideline in the press code that prohibits the press from playing down gambling.

The way in which “Bild” reports on the subject of gambling had already attracted criticism in the past. There are numerous reports on online gambling and sports betting on the newspaper’s homepage, including a so-called betting school and odds tips from supposed experts.

In addition to this editorial content, gambling providers are advertised, including their own sports betting offer “BildBet”, which is operated with the gambling company BetVictor. The media group Axel Springer, which publishes “Bild”, announced the partnership in October, shortly after the first sports betting licenses had been issued.

Springer sees editorial separation guaranteed

On request, a spokesman for the group rejects allegations that “Bild” mixes editorial and advertising content. The newspaper reports “extremely responsibly” and “explicitly points out the risks associated with gambling in the editorial articles”. For each article there is also a reference to help for gambling addicts. Like any other brand cooperation, “BildBet” is “very clearly and visibly separated from the editorial offer”.

Other media groups have meanwhile also announced their entry into the lucrative online gaming market. ProSiebenSat.1 offers online sports betting and virtual slot machine games under the brand “JackOne” with the company Betsson. A spokeswoman for ProSiebenSat.1 emphasized on request that marketing and editing are strictly separated.

Billion dollar market with growth potential

The market for sports betting has grown rapidly in Germany in recent years. According to figures from the German Sports Association, the annual turnover doubled between 2014 and 2019 from around 4.5 billion euros to more than nine billion euros. After a decline in sales due to the Corona crisis, the industry expects sales in the current year to match the level before the crisis.

As sales grew, so did advertising spending. This is particularly evident in professional football. Almost all Bundesliga clubs and the DFB now advertise sports betting providers. Also the ARD sports show will be sponsored by the gambling company “Tipico” from the coming Bundesliga season. A spokesman for ARD-Advertising Sales & Services refers on request to the new legal situation with the entry into force of the new State Treaty on Gambling. The company is also a premium partner of the German Football League and thus has first access to the sponsorship packages for the Bundesliga sports show on Saturday.

High risk of addiction

Konrad Landgraf, member of the gaming advisory board and managing director of the state agency for gambling addiction in Bavaria, warns that young, sports-loving people in particular are targeted by advertising for sports betting. Many believed that they could monetize their sports knowledge. Online sports betting is a form of gambling “with a high risk of addiction”. The advisory board is therefore in favor of a clear restriction of advertising.

The drug commissioner of the federal government, Daniela Ludwig, is also watching the increasing advertising with concern. The CSU politician said that sponsoring football in particular runs counter to the protection of minors and players ARD-Capital Studio. The topic belongs “not only in the press council but also in the conference of the ministers presidents”, said Ludwig.

Bremen’s Senator for the Interior, Mäurer, announced that he would address the issue at the next conference of interior ministers. However, it is questionable whether the countries can agree on a common approach. The subject of gambling has been a source of controversy between them for years. While some countries want to liberalize the market more, others are pushing for stricter controls. As a result, large gaming providers in particular have benefited from the indecisive and often inconsistent approach of the supervisory authorities for years.

Meanwhile, the press council announced on request: In September the plenum of the press council and the sponsoring association will deal with the letter from Bremen.

Dispute over advertising for sports betting

Philipp Eckstein, ARD Berlin, 13.7.2021 · 22:12