Bookmakers like Bet 365 have provided the only way to watch certain fixtures from the world's oldest cup competition
The English Football Association (FA) has said that it will stop bookmakers from being able to live stream FA Cup matches going forward. It is as yet unclear when this change will take place with some reporting it will come into fruition during the next TV rights cycle and others suggesting it could be in force as early as the upcoming fourth round ties next month.
As part of its TV rights deal for the competition, which includes exclusive TV broadcasting rights for terrestrial giants BBC and ITV, the FA signed a six-year agreement with IMG. This allowed the latter to sell live stream broadcasting rights to several bookmakers. Companies like Bet 365, operating within this agreement, have been showing select FA Cup fixtures on their website and mobile app to their users since the start of the 2018-19 season. The deal was set to continue until the end of the 2023-24 campaign but that now looks in doubt.
It has been reported that the bookies in question, including Bet 365, have offered to give up their rights to allow all matches to be screened on those aforementioned terrestrial TV networks, allowing all games to be free-to-air for the general public. This would be a very generous move on the part of those companies who legitimately own the rights to those fixtures.
The deal allowing the betting companies to live stream those cup games has been controversial since its inception. Back in January 2022, former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch called the agreement "embarrassing" in an interview with TalkSport, citing an "intrinsic link between gambling and poor mental health".
In light of the recent furore over these FA Cup live streams, Nicola Palios, the vice-chairman of Tranmere Rovers, said: “It should never be acceptable to make watching a football match dependent on gambling."
On the other hand, defenders of this agreement might point out that companies like Bet 365 do not force people to gamble in order to watch games. There are two options to enable live streaming on Bet 365's site or app and those are 1) to place a bet and 2) to deposit £5 into your account. Therefore, you can simply open an account, make a deposit, never place a bet and enjoy live streaming some of the world's biggest football competitions.
Nonetheless, the government is cracking down on gambling in football more generally. While the Premier League and EFL have vehemently campaigned to retain the right to make sponsorship deals with betting companies, those also seem to be on the chopping block, despite 9/20 Premier League clubs sporting a front-of-shirt sponsor from a bookmaker, and several more in the lower leagues. This looks set to be phased out in the coming years as the government gets tough on gambling promotion.
Fans can expect some big changes in the coming years in this space, and may have to go without the easy and convenient live streaming option of Bet 365 as soon as the next round of the FA Cup
Football live streaming with Bet 365
Not only are Bet 365 live streaming FA Cup clashes this season, they also bring fans action from some of the biggest leagues in Europe including La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1. Via their website and mobile app, fans simply need to deposit £5 into their account and then click on the video icon next to the fixture of their choice to get started. League and cup competitions involving some of the world's most popular players are at your fingertips thanks to Bet 365. Start live streaming today. Terms and conditions apply.
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