The major sports leagues in the US were against legalized sports betting, but now they have to accept it because the Supreme Court struck down the federal law that prohibited it. Teams in those leagues can now accept gambling sponsors, which can be very lucrative for them.
Gambling sponsorships in sports
For many years now, gambling companies have sponsored sports teams around the world. The two activities go hand in hand, especially if sports betting is involved.
These companies can target those who are directly interested in their products. For example, nine of the twenty teams in the English Premier League have gambling-related shirt sponsors. In the next tier of football in the United Kingdom, 17 of the 24 teams have gambling operators as their shirt sponsors.
A lot of those teams that don’t have such a shirt sponsor do have an official betting partner. Football betting is big business, and there’s no better way to attract new customers than to sponsor a football team.
There is an ongoing debate about the damage this type of sponsorship can do to young people who are exposed to these companies from an early age. When they continually see promotions and ads involving their favorite players boosting gambling products, it normalizes gambling in an unhealthy way.
Young people are much more easily influenced because their brains are still developing and this early and regular exposure can lead to gambling problems down the line.
Some parties in the United Kingdom and elsewhere are trying to reduce the amount of scope gambling companies have in their advertising. Some MPs in the UK are calling for an end to gambling-related advertisements, for example.
A new coalition government that came into power in Italy in May is very anti-gambling. This government has already banned gambling advertisements and has also implemented a ban on all forms of gambling company promotions or sponsorships involving sports teams. This ban will take effect on January 1, 2019.
Over half the teams in the Serie A, which is Italy’s leading football division, have sponsorships with gambling companies, and they are very concerned. About $140m (£106m) annually goes to those teams and leagues, and the ban could put them at serious economic risk.
Gambling sponsorships in the US
The situation is a bit different in the US because gambling operators have not been allowed to sponsor major sports teams. With the legalization of sports betting, this has largely changed.
The NFL has now given the go-ahead for teams to accept gambling operator sponsorships, including stadium naming rights. Gambling companies are also allowed to advertise during the pre- and post-game shows, but not during the game itself.
They will also be able to use their sponsored NFL team’s brand and logos in their advertising campaigns. The only caveat is that they cannot use a team’s branding to promote sports betting. This move came as a surprise, as many saw the NFL as being the league that was most against gambling and sports betting.
It didn’t take long for the Dallas Cowboys to become the first NFL team to acquire a gambling sponsor. The team has signed with the Win Star World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma. This will be the catalyst for other teams in the league to acquire these types of sponsors.
The New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League (NHL) has publicly estimated that it will benefit by about $5m (£3.8m) this year, thanks to being located in New Jersey, which has fully legalized sports betting. This revenue will come from deals they are ready to strike with local casinos and sportsbooks. The Devils are the only NHL team in the state, which places them in a strong position to obtain these types of sponsorships.
The NBA has already struck a deal with MGM Resorts International, which will be the league’s first gambling partner. The NBA will provide the MGM sportsbook with league data for their sportsbooks, which will also be allowed to use NBA and WNBA branding in marketing campaigns.
Deals like this are only going to become more common as time goes on. There is a lot of revenue out there that teams can snap up and they are not likely to let those opportunities go to waste.