Betting and sports have gone together since time immemorial, but it is only in the last century has the notion of sponsorship fused them into a symbiotic relationship. As betting becomes more popular and crucially, more regulated, sport and its fans will be the primary beneficiaries.
The relationship between betting and sponsorship goes back a long way, and yet the role gambling firms play in funding sport, and the entertainment value its fans enjoy, is little acknowledged.
Since the first horce racing sponsorship deal was struck in the UK in 1957 the practice has continued to grow across sectors, across sports, and sweeped across the countries of Europe. The growing popularity of sports betting has fanned the flames of sports sponsorship over the past decade, and as more countries regulate their betting markets a greater share of sports’ funding comes from such agreements.
Speaking to the European Gaming and Betting Association, Jon Stainer, managing director, of Repucom in the UK and Ireland, a global leader in sports marketing research, commented: “As more and more European markets open up their gambling markets to competition, the online betting industry is expected to play an instrumental role in bringing added entertainment to sports fans, and diversified sources of revenue to sports.”
According to Stainer, 80 percent of the estimated E100m invested by the betting sector in UK sports sponsorship this year went into football, but is beginning to spread across more sports all the time.
“This is where organisations like Repucom come in,” he adds, “assisting bookmakers and betting companies around the world in shaping and monitoring their commercial partnerships within sport, and helping them to understand and unlock the value generated through partnerships with teams or events. While top-flight football is likely to always be a draw for betting companies, other sports also benefit from the growth of the betting industry.”
Horse racing in particular continues to have a strong relationship with the UK betting industry, in the UK and elsewhere, but now we are seeing a rise in the betting-sponsorship for a range of secondary sports – snooker, tennis etc – and the rapidly expanding esports sector, attracting more fans, and of course, more money.
“Through live streaming in particular,” added Stainer, “these agreements can attract new audiences to sports that have traditionally found difficulties gaining visibility through mainstream media or TV stations. In this respect, the development of online betting has increased the financial value of sports – increasing interest, targeting new audiences and providing diversified sources of revenue.
“As for the future, the remarkable growth of e-sports competitions is one area of development to monitor closely – the betting industry is already starting to take a greater interest in these events. The development of online betting has increased the financial value of sports – increasing interest, targeting new audiences and providing diversified sources of revenue. Overall, sponsorship is outpacing all other major revenue streams and is expected to be three times bigger by 2018 than it was in 2004.”