Amsterdam football club Ajax has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with online gambling company Unibet, which recently won a licence to offer betting and gambling in the Netherlands.
The new deal comes as parliament and addiction experts press the cabinet to tighten up the rules for advertising online gambling websites, amid fears that more people are taking up the habit.
Ajax and Unibet said on Wednesday that they aimed to work together on ‘social projects’, mainly in the field of mental health, as well as responsible gambling and preventing match fixing. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Unibet, founded in 1997, is part of the Kindred Group, one of the world’s biggest online gambling companies. It is one of 19 companies to have a licence to operate in the Netherlands so far.
Legal protection minister Franc Weerwind has pledged to come up with a ban on advertising which encourages reckless gambling in the next few months.
In particular, MPs are angry about the use of celebrities, such a magician Hans Klok and football player Wesley Sneijder in the ads, as well as the sheer volume of promotion on television and radio.
According to website SportNext.nl, most Dutch Eredivisie clubs are sponsored by gambling companies to some extent, including 10 which are linked to Toto.
The website also says the Unibet deal with Ajax was mooted last year and is likely to be in the region of €2 million to €3 million. Local media report that Unibet had also been in talks with AZ of Alkmaar about a sponsorship deal, but failed to reach an agreement.
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