Date: 13.02.2024

by Antoni Majewski

Sauber F1 Team Faces Legal Challenges with New Title Sponsor Stake in Switzerland

The Sauber Formula 1 team, based in Switzerland, has entered the new season with a fresh title sponsor, Stake, an online casino operator banned in the country. This partnership has sparked a legal inquiry by the Swiss Federal Gaming Board, raising concerns about compliance with local gambling advertising regulations.

Sauber’s Bold Move with Stake

In a recent unveiling event in London, Sauber introduced its latest race car, the C44, adorned with the branding of its new main sponsor, Stake, a prominent crypto-casino operator.

The partnership aims to leverage Stake’s global entertainment brand to broaden Sauber’s audience and fan base. However, this collaboration brings not only financial support and new fans but also a host of legal challenges due to strict gambling advertising laws in several Formula 1 host countries.

Navigating Legal Restrictions

Sauber Team Principal, Alunni Bravi, acknowledged the complexities of adhering to varying international regulations, stating, “We will comply with all applicable laws as we did last year. Where Stake is prohibited, we will use an alternative team name, working with either Stake or Kick, another sponsor, depending on the country.”

This means that in certain jurisdictions, all Stake logos must be concealed or replaced, potentially with those of “Kick,” and the team may compete under a different name.

Legal Implications in Switzerland

The partnership has also stirred legal issues within Switzerland, as Stake operates without a local license, rendering it illegal and subject to advertising restrictions. Despite this, Stake’s branding is prominently featured on Sauber’s website, social media, and team apparel.

The Swiss Federal Gaming Board has initiated a formal proceeding against Sauber, with potential fines reaching up to CHF 500,000. Sauber’s management remains composed, with Bravi asserting the team’s commitment to compliance: “We always adhere to all applicable laws, including in Switzerland, and have taken all necessary measures to comply.”

Commentary: A Complex Season Ahead for Sauber

Sauber’s innovative partnership with Stake introduces a new dynamic to its Formula 1 campaign, both on and off the track. While aiming to expand its reach and enhance its brand, the team must navigate the intricate web of international and local gambling laws, underscoring the challenges sports entities face when engaging with the gambling sector.

As the new season unfolds, Sauber’s ability to balance competitive performance with legal compliance will be closely watched.