In July 2018, it was reported by the Irish Times that over 50 percent of football clubs in the Premier League and English Championship had iGaming companies as shirt sponsors. The increase in online gambling companies sponsoring football clubs has been rapid.
It has been less than two decades since the first online gambling firm’s logo appeared on a Premier League team’s shirt. Betfair Casino appeared on Fulham’s jerseys in 2002. Since then, the trend has grown, and the amount of money being offered to sponsor football clubs has gone through the roof. The United Kingdom’s gambling industry alone is worth £14 billion and many football clubs are salivating at the mouth to get their hands on some of that cash. Many other online casino facts were exposed by SolicitorsGuru in their recent blog post.
iGaming and Football
So, why are iGaming companies investing heavily in football sponsorships? One reason gambling companies are associating with football clubs is due to the prestige it offers. Firms gain immediate credibility with bettors, which is important because nearly all iGaming companies exist online. These are not local bet shops. Rather they are 24/7 online betting platforms and gaining credibility is vital to obtaining customers. By seeing an iGaming company’s logo on a football shirt, potential customers are more likely to trust the brand.
Another reason iGaming companies are attracted to football clubs is due to the ready-made audience the sport provides. A betting firm can pay to sponsor a football team’s shirt and feel confident that many of the club’s supporters will open accounts with them. Diehard fans can be swayed by their favourite football club and an iGaming company can reap the rewards.
SportPesa paid an estimated £75 million to Everton to sponsor their shirt this season. Everton is a massive club in England with supporters around the world. Even if a small number of those fans open accounts with SportPesa and begin gambling, the company can make back its money and more. Aston Villa is not an exception either. Unibet and 32Red are among Aston Villa’s official partners. Football clubs provide willing betting audiences that no other sport can.
Are iGaming Companies Hurting Football?
In the last 20 years, gambling on football has increased. It is difficult to watch a match in England on Sky Sports or BT Sport without being bombarded by a hundred online betting adverts. There is no doubt sports betting is now a normal part of society in the UK.
Football is at a very difficult crossroads in terms of iGaming brand sponsorships. While the money is lucrative for teams, gambling experts believe it is damaging the relationship fans have with sports. According to GambleAware Chief Executive Marc Etches, fans feel they have to bet on football, or any sport for that matter, to really enjoy it. Thanks to smartphones and apps an entire generation has grown up with betting on football being a “normal” activity every match day.
In July 2018, experts on problem gambling stated the number of iGaming sponsorships in football were worrying. But with millions of pounds pouring into the sport from iGaming firms, it is doubtful that the trend will end.