The new basketball competition, with ten Belgian and eleven Dutch teams, is officially called the BetFirst BNXT-League. The BNXT League logo shines on all shirts of the 21 teams, but BetFirst is not on it. “Last season we signed a three-year contract with BetFirst,” says general manager Wim Van de Keere of the BNXT League.
“If this proposal goes through, we will have a problem. I’m not going to get ahead of things just yet and I’m going to discuss with the other sports federations what we can do. Sitting around the table with all parties involved is the most important thing to do,” said Van den Keere. However, gambling companies are ubiquitous in Belgian basketball. Five Belgian first division players are sponsored by a gambling company. National champion Ostend is sponsored by Bwin, Golden Palace is a partner of Telenet Giants Antwerp and Spirou Charleroi. Kangaroos Mechelen (Bingoal) and Okapi Aalstar (Ladbrokes) also have a gambling sponsor.
“Golden Palace is a structural partner at Telenet Giants Antwerp. We understand the proposal, but it must above all be seen in a broader sense and also at a European level,” says chairman Björn Verhoeven of Telenet Giants Antwerp. “Golden Palace is also very careful with its publicity, especially towards youth. This comes at a particularly bad time for us. On the one hand, we have excellent contact with Golden Palace and we will meet again on Thursday to expand the contract, which runs until 2023. On the other hand, we come from two corona seasons that have hurt the indoor sports in particular financially. We hardly have TV money in basketball and next season the social security contributions for professional athletes will also increase. If this proposal gets through, it will have a major impact on professional sports. We urgently need to sit down with all those involved,” said Verhoeven.