A Look At Bookmakers Sponsoring Football Clubs
There’s no denying the fact that sports sponsorships have evolved greatly in the past decades. What was once a simple marketing trick to raise awareness regarding a company has transformed into a complex business platform with earnings exceeding $40 billion worldwide. In fact, the sponsorship business is so profitable that it even drew the attention of online gambling sites and casinos, institutions that normally enjoy a hefty annual income.
In the light of the recent match-fixing scandal in Italy, which culminated in the arrest of great names of the Italian football such as Omar Milanetto and Stefano Mauri, it only seems legit to question whether it is legal for bookmakers to offer sponsorships to teams of the Premier League. Essentially yes, due to the nature of the contract gambling companies sign with the football clubs and the morality clauses stipulated in the document.
To put it simply, because the latter section clearly states that both parties must stay clear of actions affecting their images, this sponsorship is no different than the ones football clubs sign with big corporations. In short, if they would get involved in illicit activities both parties will have a lot to lose in the long run. While the match-fixing scandal is shocking, keep in mind that football is also about passion and most players are not willing to throw their life work away for short term profit.
It is important to note that according to various surveys, football fans award a great level of trust to their favorite team’s sponsors. Moreover, fans are more eager or even willing to wager a bet on their favorite team, if that certain casino or gambling parlor is one of the team’s sponsors. Perhaps the cloud of suspicion regarding this type of sponsorship stem from the fact that bookmakers have hit the bull’s eye by advertising and raising brand awareness for the right audience.
The legal coverage
In spite of their highly effective regulatory legislation, the British authorities are rather strict on the gambling operator’s sponsorship activities. To summarize, according to the Gambling Act, the teams in the Barclays Premier League are forbidden to advertise casinos and betting services that are not based with the EEA or are part of the Gambling Commission White List.
Now that we clarified the legality and hopefully, the morality issues associated with this type of sponsorship, let’s go over the Premier League teams that have or still are benefiting from the bookmakers’ funding.
After the success they have registered with the shirt sponsorship of Real Madrid, a collaboration that earned the company approximately 20% of the betting market share in Spain, bwin.com has extended its business to the Premier League. While Real Madrid earns about €16 million annually from bwin.com, the bookmaker is willing to offer a sponsorship of only €2.4 million to the Red Devils. Nonetheless, it’s slightly more than the sponsorship that ManUtd earned from its previous contract with Betfair, estimated €1.5 million per year.
Top UK casino operator Genting Casino has joined forces with Aston Villa for two consecutive years as the main shirt sponsor of the football club. With over 40 casinos in the United Kingdom alone and part of Malaysia’s largest multinational corporation, Genting Casino has obtained quite a good deal considering that the company’s logo will be displayed in both home and away shirts for the 2012-2013 season.
In spite of Arsenal’s rough start, Wenger’s team appears to have recuperated a bit at the end of the first half of the 2012-2013 season, especially after the team’s main sponsor – Emirates Airlines – threatened to cut the funding. Nonetheless, Emirates as well as their bookmaker sponsor GunnersGaming by Betsson still view Arsenal as a strong brand, well organized and quite a good investment irrespective of the team’s bad experiences in the Champion’s Leagues over the past few years.
Even though the controversial online sportsbook provider 188bet was the main actor in a huge betting scandal in the UK in 2009, Chelsea chose to continue its collaboration with the bookmaker until the 2011-2012 season. Lamparn and Co. are currently without an official casino or gambling provider, but that is not really a big issue considering that the London-based club receives impressive funding from international giants such as Samsung, Gazprom and Coca-Cola.
Newcastle United has signed a sponsorship contract with Bet Butler for three years starting with the 2012-2013 season. The details of the funding Newcastle will receive have not been made public and the only sure thing regarding this collaboration is that the contract spans over a period of 3 years. Bet Butler is not really a bookmaker per say, but something more than that considering that besides waging they also offer apps that allow users to compare the odds from over 60 bookmakers in Europe. Furthermore, Newcastle’s official betting provider has several attractive incentives for the team’s fans, such as giving away £25 vouchers for new sign-ups.
Bet Butler is dead serious on making a name in the United Kingdom and the second sponsorship contract the company signed last summer with Fulham United stands proof of that. Similar to the collaboration with Newcastle, this contract will be available for the next three seasons, time during which Fulham fans can enjoy an enhanced waging experience and extremely low commissions charged only for winnings.
Liverpool is another great team in Barclays Premier League that continued to do business with 188bet in spite of the accusations and criticism the bookmaker received after allowing teenagers the possibility to bet on academy games. While Liverpool officials have announced that 188bet will be one of the official club sponsors for the next two years, this remains to be seen, especially after their £20 million per year official sponsor – Standard Chartered – has qualified Luis Suárez’s racist behavior on Old Trafford as very disappointing.
Since bookmakers sponsoring football clubs is becoming a huge trend all across European leagues, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. A perfect example in this sense is the sponsorship contract between betting provider defabet.com and Everton, a team that has impressed this seasons and that has high chances of finishing the season in a position that allows them to play in the Europa League, if not Champion’s League, providing of course that Arsenal and Tottenham don’t improve their gaming.
The official betting partner for the Spurs starting 2012-2013 season is none other than betfred.com. Even though the officials have not made the contract’s details public, they did announce that it will be available for the next 3 years. In addition, similar to Bet Butler, betfred.com also features nice incentives for Tottenham’s fans, such as free £10 bets on Spur’s next game and £50 voucher they can use on a matched bet.
A final thought
The entrance of non-European gambling operators on the top tier European leagues and teams has become predominant in the 2009-2010 season, a timeframe that coincides with the start of the economic crisis on the Old Continent. Interestingly enough, most of them are Asian based and in the Barclays League alone 4 out of 20 teams are currently receiving hefty sponsorships from operators such as 188bet and Gentic Casino. However, before you jump to the wrong conclusion, it is necessary to mention that this is nothing more than a result of a combination of favorable factors.