The Contentious Relationship of iGaming Sponsorships and Sports

Sports and gambling go hand in hand. Even before internet bookmakers were a concept, punters were betting on various sports. Betting websites only made this activity readily available. Over the years, gambling operators have had a growing influence on sports.

As iGaming increased in popularity, it became expanded its marketing reach. Casinos and bookmakers saw massive potential in partnering with sports clubs as a way to market their services.

If you watch sports, then you might see players with kits featuring popular gambling brands.

European football is particularly reliant on jersey sponsorships from iGaming companies even though the league agreed to remove front-of-shirt advertising.

Although both partners in a sponsorship benefit, these arrangements are not without challenges. Regulators, authorities and the public have raised concerns about the influence of sports intertwining with gambling on such a big level.

Even in countries like New Zealand, where offshore operators can’t advertise to Kiwis, these deals still carry weight. Even though Kiwis might not receive direct messages from gambling outfits, it doesn’t mean they don’t consume them.

For this reason, understanding why deals between sports teams and gambling operators are so contentious is crucial.

Mutually-Beneficial Sponsorship Deals

As with any other partnership, sports teams and gambling operators get something back when they enter sponsorship agreements. Marketing is the primary goal of online casinos and sportsbooks.

These outfits want to reach as many potential players as possible. Sports offer great opportunities to achieve that. From football to rugby to basketball, different sports attract spectators from all over the world.

Thanks to streaming, viewership multiplies the number of people watching sports events from various devices. The more popular a sport is, the more marketing potential it provides.

It’s why you will find even casino sites that accept 1 deposits partnering with big-name clubs globally. Having players from a major team wearing jerseys with a casino’s name means thousands, maybe millions, of people get to see the brand.

Some people might even learn of the operator from this experience. It’s brand exposure on a massive scale.

Besides visibility, these deals increase the credibility of betting sites and casinos when they collaborate with popular leagues and clubs. In return, sports teams receive funds and other incentives, thereby increasing revenue streams.

Clubs can also build their fan bases by improving betting offerings. Sports fans and sports bettors have a direct correlation. Providing advanced gambling features can convert fans into punters.

Sponsorships are available in varying forms, including rights as the official betting partner, jersey sponsorships and stadium naming rights.

The legalisation of sports betting and online gambling in various regions has contributed to the rise of sports and iGaming partnerships.

Criticism Against Sports and iGaming Partnerships

The biggest contention in the use of sports to market gambling products boils down to responsible gaming. Gambling-related harms have always been a concern in the industry. Many countries consider gambling addiction a public health issue.

The fear is that exposing the public to marketing messages from bookmakers and casinos increases the risk of problem gambling. Although no empirical research connects gambling sponsorships of sports to higher cases of addiction, the sector continues to receive negative attention on the matter.

The argument is that constant exposure to gambling brands fuels the urge to gamble. Individuals who might otherwise not have considered it could visit a sponsor they saw on TV during a match.

Another concern is that associating gambling with sports, especially popular ones, could depict the activity as safe. The use of prominent figures, such as star players, can reinforce this belief. People of all ages consume sports media.

Therefore, underage people may not be safe from these messages. A teenager who sees an ad about betting on a popular event while watching his or her favourite sport might consider trying it.

Marketing deals between betting companies and sports franchises leverage fan loyalty and support.

Until concrete studies prove that gambling deals with sports organisations impact attitudes, behaviours and intentions, all current arguments are theoretical. However, it’s not to say they are wrong.

For this reason, regulators and other shareholders are getting more proactive in raising awareness and putting measures to protect consumers. The UKGC (UK Gambling Commission) has regulations on advertising to underage and vulnerable persons.

The Absence of Advertising Deals in New Zealand

As prevalent as gambling sponsorships are, they are not available everywhere. In New Zealand, international casinos and betting operators don’t have permission to advertise to locals.

Therefore, they can’t work with the country’s sports leagues for branding purposes. Although the island nation presents great chances for sponsorships for popular games like rugby and football, leagues lose out due to the current legislation.

Nevertheless, the public still access these branding messages. Since streaming is available to anyone with internet, you can catch banners at a cricket game, branding on a football team’s kit or a commercial during a big game.

So, Kiwis face as much risk as consumers in regions where gambling advertising is legal.

Gambling sponsorships in sports continue to rise at a dramatic pace. Many casinos and betting websites have advertising deals with sports organisations, allowing them to market to millions of fans.

It’s how these messages are available in regions where iGaming operators cannot advertise legally, like New Zealand.

While these partnerships propel the industry, they pose various issues that, as a bettor or player, you should keep in mind when interacting with various brands.

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