Gambling sponsorships on playing attire and equipment will be permitted in international bilateral matches, heightening the spectre of the sports betting in cricket. The Chief Executive Committee agreed during International Cricket Council meetings in Dubai to allow betting sponsorships on clothing in bilaterals.
The removal of the restriction will be effective as of April but will still be prohibited in major ICC events such as World Cups. The matter had been discussed during meetings last November, but the CEC decided the restrictions were to remain in place.
Several teams, however, from Full Member nations subsequently displayed gambling sponsorship logos on their playing kit or as on-field advertising at their home venues, Forbes reported. It prompted the issue to again be discussed and, ultimately, restrictions to be lifted.
CEC secretary Clive Hitchcock said in a document sent to administrators that, “noting that several members would be restricted from using betting logos in their country, and on the basis that several members had engaged with betting companies for sponsorship, it was felt that the members should have the right to determine for themselves if betting logos should be used in bilateral and domestic cricket.”
Gambling sponsorship is a controversial subject across sports. English Premier League clubs will stop featuring such sponsorship on the front of their kits as of the 2025-2026 season. Currently, eight out of 20 clubs in the competition have betting companies as front of shirt sponsors. The U.K. government is set to publish a white paper on gambling regulation.
Other countries have been concerned over the polarizing subject of sports betting, which critics say can cause gambling disorders and accelerate addiction.
Gambling sponsorships of sports clubs and stadiums were banned in Spain in 2020, while in Australia there is a parliament committee currently looking into online gambling in sports.
Even though sports betting is illegal in India, cricket’s undisputed biggest market, there has been a penetration of gambling sponsorship in the sport. Bet365 has been a partner of Cricket Australia since 2012.
While online betting and gaming company Betway is the title sponsor of South Africa’s new T20 league. Betway has sponsorship agreements with Cricket South Africa and Cricket West Indies. Dream 11, a fantasy sports app, is a major sponsor of India’s cricket governing body, and considered legal in India due to being deemed “skill-based”.
The move from the ICC comes as the ECB is investigating test coach Brendon McCullum’s links to betting company 22Bet. New Zealander McCullum has joined the company as an ambassador appearing in multiple ads online.
In a statement given to the BBC, the ECB said: “We are exploring the matter and are in discussions with Brendon around his relationship with 22Bet. We have rules in place around gambling and will always seek to ensure these are followed.”
Even though sports betting is regulated in certain major cricket countries, where education is drummed into athletes at a young age, the optics of gambling sponsorships visibly displayed at international cricket matches is nonetheless concerning for some.
Meanwhile, the number of logos permitted on team kits for Test and ODI matches will be increased to the same level as allowed in T20Is. It was also resolved that colored clash kits will no longer be required for ICC events and bilateral cricket.