WHERE NEXT FOR BETTING SPONSORS?
Up until 2002, there had not been a single Premier League shirt sponsor from the betting and gaming sectors but, as of the start of the 2018/19, 60% of the clubs in The Premier League (9/20) and The Championship (17/24) will have the logos of gambling sponsors on the front of their shirts.
As shirt sponsorship deals from betting firms within football reach record levels, regulations across the industry are moving at rapid pace:
The British Horse-Racing Authority launched the Authorised Betting Partner (ABP) scheme in 2015 and then dropped it a year later in 2017 – non-ABP firms were initially banned from sponsoring any races
In December 2018, gambling companies agreed to a ban on all advertising during the broadcast of live sports
Italy went one further and has introduced a blanket ban on all betting advertising, including football sponsorship
The NFL, on the other hand, has recently relaxed its stance on gambling sponsorship and announced Caesars Entertainment as the first ever ‘Official Casino Sponsor of the NFL’
The above are just a few examples from the last couple of years alone of how betting within sponsorship is forever changing and demonstrates the need for flexibility when it comes to any approach to a betting company.
Rights holders are often having their willingness to speak to betting firms restricted by their own governing bodies whilst the brands themselves are forever having to juggle a myriad of changing rules and regulations. Looking ahead, this year’s impending cut of maximum stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2 will have further implications across the UK’s betting landscape – expect plenty of sponsorship budgets to be cut as a result. With pertinent issues around social impact and responsible gambling also dictating the sponsorship industry’s relationship with the gambling sector, plenty of questions need to be asked about how betting partnerships will continue to evolve.
In 2017, Betfair launched a partnership with the Drone Racing League and, last year, Unibet the World Chess Championship’s first-ever official betting partner. Matchroom Sports’ annual Fish-O-Mania event has regularly attracted a betting partner, notably Dafabet, Betway and Coral in recent years. Brands partnering with these less mainstream sports is a noteworthy development but it will be intriguing to see if such a trend plays out long term.
Ultimately, betting brands want to attract casual punters and not seasoned gambling professionals. The ideal customer is a regular recreational gambler but, most importantly, a losing one. Any rights holders that have a bet-hungry audience matching that criteria will always be best placed to attract new investment from the sector.