Could betting sponsorship ban affect rugby league?

Added to the Premier League, Rugby League has also been highly invested in sponsorship by online gambling companies. These days, seeing the betting firms’ logos in the clubs’ shirts and advertisements is common. Actually, they are ubiquitous when it comes to the Rugby League and several rugby clubs’ sponsorships come from these powerful companies. 

As an example, the biggest bookmaker BetFred is an official partner of the Super League and even though their collaboration is ending at the end of the 2021 season, the discussions to continue this alliance will continue. Today, the UK government is reviewing the Gambling Act and plans to ban gambling in rugby as part of this review. As this sport will also contribute to the review, the betting sponsorship ban could also affect the Rugby League?

The Betting Sponsorship Ban Affects the Whole Sports Industry

As confirmed by Rick Parry, the English Football League’s chairman, gambling participation in sport remained stable at about 9% between 2010 and 2018 whereas the rate of problem gambling in sports had reduced from 6% to 3%. Although the rate had halved, the project to minimise the gambling harm as much as possible must be established, and forbidding the gambling sponsorships is part of this campaign. 

Despite the fact that football and rugby are not the same regarding gambling-related sponsorships, adverts target vulnerable gamblers and facilitate the practice for minors. It is also important not to promote several bookmakers not taking part in GamStop to provide responsible gambling.  Actually, the rise in gambling commercials is among the factors to normalise children who have to expose TV ads for gambling. The issues related to the leading sports including rugby were obvious during the rugby seasons. Gambling adverts that are associated with live sporting events like Rugby League, Rugby World Cup, and Rugby Union are allowed in the UK before 9 pm but they will be banned by 2023.

Gambling Sponsorships are Profitable to Teams

Many club leagues signed agreement deals with the betting companies meaning that this sport has become associated with high-profile operators. The trend to enter into the partnership with the rugby clubs is continuously rising. As an example, in 2018, more than half of the popular rugby clubs in the UK are sponsored by these firms

The partnership is evidently a lucrative source of revenue for both sports clubs and leagues. Concerning the betting operators’ side, the collaboration with the rugby league clubs is a form of marketing to reach their target audience. As for the rugby leagues, there is a heavy dependence on sponsorship income from these companies. 


In the case of Super League, the most popular rugby league competition in Europe, the deal is worth up to £900,000 annually. As for Ladbrokes, this biggest bookmaker became the first betting company to sponsor the rugby league.

Rugby League Clubs will Fail Financially

This ban will have a considerable impact on the league because gambling and betting sponsorships are important to popular sports like football and rugby. As a matter of fact, the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) clubs win £110 million annually in this sponsorship. And it will be the case of Rugby Football League (RFL) in which BetFred has become its sponsor and official sponsor of Super League and Challenge Cup. 


This betting company has been sponsoring Super League since 2017 and the current deal expires at the end of the 2021 season. In this one-year contract with RFL, the company also sponsors the women’s Challenge Cup and the wheelchair Challenge Cup. If the betting sponsorship ban affects Rugby League, the rugby clubs will face financial issues. This can lead to the clubs’ failure and as the pandemic has left financial issues to the whole clubs, this prohibition will surely cost severe difficulties to the Rugby League.

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