Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed states to decide for themselves whether to legalize sports gaming, many states have been debating that very topic. However, another debate has risen in the United States as well — whether to allow sports teams and casinos to band together in sponsorship and advertising.
While the practice of gaming houses and sportsbooks sponsoring sports teams is legal in both Australia and the United Kingdom, recently, in the United States, there has been much debate on whether casinos and sportsbooks that sponsor teams should be able to do so. There has also been some discussion about whether encouraging individual sponsorship of sports teams will also enable gamblers with addiction problems.
Gaming Companies and the Business of Sports
Online gaming companies have continued their explosive growth in Australia and the U.K., while the United States is only now entering the online gaming industry in a few states. In addition to online gaming, gamblers in the U.K. and Australia have also begun to see explosive growth in the mobile gaming industry, which is projected to grow by 50 percent in the next five years.
Gaming companies, while still banned from many forms of advertising in the United States, still manage to attract customers through a variety of online advertising, billboards, and newspaper or tourist magazine publications they are allowed to advertise in. On the other hand, both companies in the U.K. and Australia are allowed to advertise on television. Gambling companies are vying for every gaming dollar, which means they are looking to make every advertising dollar count.
One of the ways gambling companies use of their advertising dollars is through the sponsorship of sports teams. In Australia and the U.K., soccer teams are the most advertised. Researchers in the United States are looking toward gaming house sponsorships of sports teams to determine if that is the direction they want to go, especially with both professional and college football seasons beginning next month. In Europe, gaming houses also sponsor snooker, darts, cricket, and rugby. They even sponsor tournaments in their respective sports.
Why Casinos and Gaming Establishments Sponsor Soccer and Other Sports
Gambling companies decided a long time ago with respect to betting on sports that there was a huge connection between soccer and gambling. Sports bettors are more likely to watch the games they are betting on. There is also research to indicate that sports bettors also enjoy betting on other sports. Therefore, there is an opportunity for casino companies to sponsor teams in multiple sports in order to attract betting on sports other than soccer. Casinos that advertise in multiple sports venues have noted a rise in gaming across sports, as well as additional visits to their venues. There are many examples of European soccer gaming houses spending money on soccer teams in both Europe and Australia.
Betfair and Juventus
Betfair, one of the largest sportsbooks in the United Kingdom, has teamed up with Juventus, which is one of the most popular soccer teams in Europe. Betfair has a multiyear deal with Juventus to become the team’s official gaming partner. This means that Betfair will be branding team kits at Juventus’ home stadium in Italy. The company also bought the rights to have individual starters for the team market the gambling company in a variety of advertising, such as television, radio, and other media. Betfair is also allowed to use the Juventus team logo on its advertising merchandise, including T-shirts, jerseys, and other promotional materials.
Juventus supporters are also receiving advertising designed as promotional content when they visit Betfair’s online casinos. These include discounts, prize giveaways, and video content.
All this promotion of gaming with Juventus is important because the team is becoming more visible. Recently, Juventus played the American All-Stars at the All-Star Game in Atlanta, and the team’s logo was everywhere, which raised the profile of the soccer team. The All-Star Game was watched by millions of fans around the world with a sellout crowd in the United States, which raised its profile considerably. This means that the Juventus gaming partnership has the potential to be very profitable.
Royal Panda and QPR
The Royal Panda Casino in the United Kingdom, one of the fastest-growing online casinos in the country, has signed on to sponsor the Queen’s Park Rangers soccer club. The QPR, housed in West London, is one of the older second-tier soccer teams. Its fan base numbers in the hundreds of thousands. The team is fortunate to be included in both the Championship League and the Premier League, which gives it twice the exposure. The casino, which is considered an up-and-comer, has recently been winning gamers because of its amazing music and graphics at its online casino, which attracts younger players. While the agreement was seen as promising, and Royal Panda has branded the team with merchandise and logos, the expected revenue from fans of the soccer team has not materialized because the team itself has had a terrible season. And, for that reason, the amount of money spent by Royal Panda has not paid off so far.
However, Royal Panda, which recently added sportsbooks to its casino venture, is hoping for a better result when the season begins again.
Unibet and Aston Villa
Aston Villa has been one of the best sports teams in Europe for more than 100 seasons, which is why Unibet was delighted to sign on as a team’s sponsor. While the team has been using the Unibet brand to advertise, the good fortune at the casino has not rubbed off on the team in the last few years. In 2016, Aston Villa was relegated. That means the number of fans at its games, which was averaging 30,000 per game, dropped. Interestingly, however, the online casino has decided to make the best of it. It put its logo on one of the most famous shirts in the sport and came up with unique marketing ideas, such as giving the soccer players the ability to play in a series of games against legends of the sport who used to play for the team. Unibet is hoping that all its marketing ideas will translate into more fans coming to the casino and betting at both the online casino and with its sportsbooks.
Implications in the United States
Right now, advertising by gaming companies or sponsoring sports teams is still illegal in the United States. However, that it is not expected to last. There are states that are already pushing to have gambling houses sponsor sports teams on the professional level Nearly all state and the college sports conferences are opposed to casinos and sportsbooks sponsoring teams at the college level. It is expected, in several states, teams will be allowed to have sportsbooks and casinos as sponsors. Some states have discussed the idea that in order to sponsor a professional sports team, the gaming company would also have to contribute to the community as well. A company would have to sponsor some of the community service and sports programs that are available in the area where the professional team is located. Whatever the United States or the individual states decide to do with sports gaming sponsorship, it will occur a little at a time.
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