Spanish La Liga Inks Asia Marketing Deal With Betting Giant M88

Mutually beneficial partnership

Gibraltar-based betting and iGaming giant M88 has secured exclusive Asia marketing rights for Spain’s premier soccer league, La Liga, with a four-season deal.

a market La Liga is eager to tap into

The Asia-focused brand will act as La Liga’s official regional betting partner in the region up until the end of the 2023-24 season. M88 will promote exclusive, top-flight Spanish soccer content to an Asia-wide audience, a market La Liga is eager to tap into.

As demand for world-class soccer material packaged with a local accent increases in Asia, M88 will roll out a weekly La Liga video series. The presentations will explore and analyze Spain’s showcase league, with some of La Liga’s official ambassadors expected to make appearances.

SportBusiness reported on M88’s regional expansion in a tweet:

As part of the deal, M88 and La Liga will promote competitions via their digital channels, with prizes including match tickets and official La Liga merchandise.

A beast in the East

The Mansion Group, which M88 falls under, is a powerhouse in the East. Mansion has a strong online presence in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, countries where soccer is the most popular sport.

La Liga’s viewing audiences in Asia increased by 72%

For both La Liga and M88, the Asia market is a lucrative one, particularly post-COVID-19. According to analytics firm Nielsen Sports, La Liga’s viewing audiences in Asia increased by 72% following the restart of Spain’s top domestic league on June 11.

Oscar Mayo, La Liga’s head of business, marketing, and international development, sees the M88 partnership as an opportunity to maximize the league’s standing in the East. He described the agreement as “a new way to reach new audiences and show them a side to the competition they haven’t seen before.”

An M88 spokesperson concurred, adding that the company is poised to “engage with La Liga fans and bring our own members closer to the action” as the league’s popularity increases across the Asian region.

Spanish standoff

La Liga’s decision to allow a betting brand to market its interests in Asia comes as a major snub to the Spanish Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón. Garzón has been at the forefront of the Spanish government’s campaign to alter the country’s advertising rules for online gambling. Should Garzón get his way, it would lead to a near-blanket ban on adverts in the soccer sector, including a ban on gambling brands’ logos appearing on players’ shirts.

Currently, there are seven La Liga clubs about to kick off the 2020/21 season with a betting company as their main shirt sponsor. The clubs, with sponsors in brackets, are Alavés (Betway), Cadiz (Dafabet), Granada (Winamax), Levante (Betway), Real Betis (Betway), Sevilla (Marathon Bet), and Valencia (bwin).

While the Spanish government sent the proposed legislation to the European Commission (EU) in July, it’s not certain how Brussels will rule. A report by the Brussels-based European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) was heavily critical of the restrictions Spain is proposing. A July report on the EGBA website said the new regulations would “severely hurt the country’s football clubs which are trying to recover from the financial fallout of COVID-19.”

The EGBA also believes the ban will drive players to illegal, unregulated sites. EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer said it would “deprive Spanish players of any information where they can play in a safe and secure environment.”

A similar gambling advertising showdown looms in the UK, although, following Brexit, the country will not need Brussel’s permission to change its laws. While Draconian changes are widely expected to the UK Gambling Act, these did not daunt BetVictor and EPL club Fulham FC from agreeing a shirt sponsorship deal on Monday.

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