The Stake F1 Team, operated by Sauber Motorsport out of Hinwil, Zürich, Switzerland, is facing some legal trouble regarding its 2024 title sponsor. The team—which ran as the Alfa Romeo factory squad from 2019 to 2023, and is set to become the Audi factory team in 2026—is sponsored by online crypto casino and sports betting house Stake. Unfortunately, Switzerland’s Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen reports, heavy regulation of gambling advertising in Switzerland has landed the team in some pretty hot water. Stake isn’t registered with Switzerland’s Federal Casino Commission, making it potentially illegal for Stake to actually be the Swiss team’s title sponsor.
The Federal Casino Commission has initiated legal proceedings against the Sauber team. It says that this suit is due to Stake’s unlicensed operation within the country, potentially resulting in a big fine for the team and its sponsor. The team says it is confident that it has followed all necessary compliance efforts, according to team boss Alunni Bravi. This wasn’t a problem when Stake was a minor sponsor of the team, but becoming synonymous with the team as title sponsor has crossed a legal line.
As with 2023, there are many F1 Grands Prix hosted by countries with strict gambling advertising restrictions in 2024. For these races Stake F1 Team will not only cover up all Stake branding on the car and the team uniforms, but will actually commit to a name change, possibly elevating a secondary sponsor, Kick (a live streaming app) to the front of the line, briefly running under the Kick F1 Team banner.
SRF interviewed legal expert Patrick Kruaskopf for the report, and he confirmed that the Stake team is likely violating the Swiss advertising ban.
“Sponsoring would be allowed. In the present case, the brands Stake and Sauber are so linked together, or the term Stake is so strongly imprinted in the minds of viewers, that we have probably crossed the red line into unauthorized advertising,” says Krauskopf, who works as a professor of competition law at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.
“We always comply with all applicable laws, including in Switzerland. And of course we took all measures to comply with them,” reassures Bravi.
What a weird way to start the 2024 racing season, eh?
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