Ninjas in Pyjamas has been forced to drop their partnership with online gambling company, Betway, in order to comply with Riot Games’ sponsorship regulations in the European League of Legends Championship Series.
Betway is an online bookmaker and gambling company, facilitating a number of games such as poker, horse racing, boxing, and recently, eSports.
Betway became the main sponsor of Ninjas in Pyjamas in September, but will need to cease activity with the eSports organisation; Betway will continue to work with NiP’s individual Counter Strike: Global Offensive players, however.
— Ninjas in Pyjamas (@NiPGaming) August 15, 2017
Riot Games has always maintained a consistent message with regards to team sponsorships, advising that organisations competing within their affiliated leagues steer clear of non-endemic industries like gambling or liquor.
Though this presents some serious issues for eSports organisations eager to open themselves up to as many revenue streams as possible, it’s difficult to argue against the clean and accessible image this standard has created within the League of Legends eSports scene.
Additionally, the inherent conflict of interest that arises when gambling companies establish business ties with competitive entities is another potential factor in Ninjas in Pyjamas’ decision.
“It is no secret that entering League of Legends comes with a new set of regulations related to the league as it is a different competition in a different competitive landscape.
“Because of the league participation rules, Betway can no longer be the main sponsor of Ninjas in Pyjamas as of (Sunday).
“NiP’s relationship with Betway has been one of the most successful team partnerships in eSports. We are delighted to announce that Betway will continue supporting and working with our individual Counter-Strike players to deliver great experiences to all fans and supporters around the world.”
Ninjas in Pyjamas Official Announcement
Betway had been the main jersey sponsor of NiP, with players in other eSports titles donning the company’s logo. Yet throughout their debut LCS split, the Ninjas League of Legends team were not permitted to display the Betway branding.
Specifically, the Betway sponsorship was in breach of the Rule 4.3.1 of the EU LCS regulations, regarding team sponsorship.
As outlined, any sponsorship Riot classifies as a “limited sponsorship” may not be displayed by the players “during the use or play of League of Legends, adjacent to League of Legends related material, the LCS, the CS, or any other Riot-affiliated event.”