There are two things British sports fans seem to love more than life itself. First, they love their football. It is very rare that the resident of Great Britain does not have a football club or two that he follows and supports with great enthusiasm. The other thing UK sports fans seem to enjoy is betting on football matches.
For many decades, relationships between the British football community and the gambling industry were viewed with great skepticism. Of course, there were concerns that any football involvement with members of the sports betting community could lead to criminal activity such as match-fixing.
Sure, there have been isolated instances of players paying players and managers to throw games or worse. But that’s the point. These incidents were quite isolated and perhaps exaggerated.
The ongoing formation of alliances between football clubs and gambling operators
Sometime perhaps 10 years ago, officials from major football leagues such as the Premier League and Champions League began to realize that their objections to links to the gambling community were largely unfounded. They also began to see that such connections could be beneficial to both the professional football community and gambling interests.
After arriving at these insights, negotiations began and partnership deals have since become commonplace between major football clubs and top gambling operators. With the explosion of online/mobile gambling over the past five years, the formation of such partnerships has continued to increase.
How gambling operators benefit from soccer partnerships
Of course, anything worthwhile in business must be done with the financial bottom line as the goal. What soccer clubs can offer to sportsbooks is a mass market route for millions of sports/soccer fans who could easily become sportsbettors and it works.
It works and that is exactly why the UK’s leading gambling operators invest tens of millions of dollars every year in signing sponsorship deals with Premier and Champions League clubs. There are real financial benefits when a gambling company logo is placed on a football stadium banner or football shirt, when tens of thousands of fans watch a game live and millions more watch on ‘TV’.
How football clubs benefit from gambling sponsorship
On the other side of the football/gambling interest relationship model are the football clubs. How do they benefit from these relationships? Yes, it’s also about the money.
When a corporate gambling prospect is willing to pay tens of millions of dollars each year for marketing rights, top football clubs will have more capital to invest in their organizations. While some owners will pocket that money, some of the smaller clubs will use that revenue to compete with the wealthy bigger clubs. A good, strong partnership deal with a willing corporate gaming sponsor has the potential to create enough capital for a smaller club to start signing elite players. It’s a win-win situation for the soccer leagues because there is more parity between the teams and the fans get a better product.
How Gamstop’s partnership with football clubs is driving responsible gaming
The last thing a top football league or club wants is unwanted scrutiny regarding their gambling sponsorships/affiliations. Football club owners, managers and players have realized that the best way to avoid scrutiny is to show their full support for responsible gaming. This is exactly what top football clubs start with.
It is common for football clubs to promote Responsible Gaming on their club websites. Many clubs do this for PR reasons and because they believe it is the right thing to do.
Surprisingly, GamStop, the UKGC’s self-exclusion scheme, has made its own strides in gaining support from Premier League football clubs. It has now become commonplace for football fans to visit football club fansites and see links to the GamStop program. This is done to ensure that football fans understand that while there is nothing wrong with betting on football matches, problem gambling resources must also be made available to problem gamblers who need help.
Here’s the thing. Football fans tend to idolize their favorite clubs and players. When clubs and players promote responsible gaming and support programs like GamStop, fans listen. Why? The influence of idols is a very powerful motivator.
By the way, GamStop works. When online gamblers register with the scheme, they are denied access to licensed UK gambling sites. If they change their mind and believe it is safe to continue playing, UK online gamblers can find UK bookmakers not blocked by GamStop.
Ultimately, this seems to be the message that football clubs send to football fans betting on sports. Come and enjoy our soccer games. Bet and enjoy your sports betting activity as long as you do it responsibly. If you happen to lose control of your online gambling, the GamStop system offers you some protection.
Looking ahead, it is expected that more of Britain’s top football clubs and online operators will come together to develop sponsorship deals. Among the beneficiaries of these relationships are the clubs and gambling operators. More importantly, UK football fans and online gamers will also benefit.
This is almost certain as long as both football clubs and gambling operators always remember that they need to focus on promoting the idea of responsible gambling. It’s the right thing.