An online betting company which is not yet allowed to operate in the Netherlands is poised to become the new main sponsor of the Dutch cycling teams.
Malta-based Unibet aims to replace Rabobank which has pulled out of cycling sponsorship after 20 years. Rabobank stopped sponsoring a men’s professional team in 2012 because of the fall-out following doping scandals and said last December it was dropping top level cycling altogether.
Unibet will take over as main sponsor of the KNWU, Dutch cycling’s governing body, in 2017 in a four year deal worth €7m, Dutch media report.
However, the deal is conditional on Unibet being awarded a licence to offer online gambling in the Netherlands when the current law is changed, and that the tax on gambling is set at 20%, website Nu.nl reports.
The government is currently finalising legislation to licence commercial online betting companies which is slated to come into effect on July 1. The Dutch state currently has a monopoly on gambling.
Because online betting companies are currently banned from targeting the Netherlands, the company was represented by six green balls during Wednesday’s presentation.
Dutch charitable foundation and lottery company Lotto is one of the current KNWU sponsors. It, too, ‘sees new opportunities’ when the government legalises online gambling.
However, the organisation said on Wednesday afternoon it is ‘extremely disappointed’ by the KNWU’s decision. ‘The KNWU’s choice of a direct competitor to De Lotto damages the principle of solidarity in sport,’ the Lotto said in a statement. In addition, the cycling body is allowing itself to be used as a lobby group, the Lotto said.
MPs want to increase the proposed tax on online gambling from 20% to 29% in line with the casino tax.
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