For years there has been an association between casinos and football clubs, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. We examine this growth in Europe

Online casinos sponsor football clubs

In 2007 it was announced that European giants Real Madrid had a new kit sponsor. The company whose name would adorn one of football's most recognisable jerseys was bwin.

At the time bwin, which offered a lot of casino games, sports betting and poker, was not a major name throughout Europe. However, over the next 6 years as some of the biggest names in football like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Raul and Sergio Ramos wore the bwin logo on their Madrid jersey, the profile of this brand skyrocketed.

This actually wasn't the first time that an online gambling company had joined forces with a top-tier football club.

The year previous, English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur were sponsored by Mansion. Back then, Mansion was a relatively new online poker operator. It has since established a top drawer online casino and more recently launched its own sports betting platform, too.

Needless to say, both of these brands profited greatly from the exposure they received from their respective clubs, and so the snowball effect began.

Your club's casino

By 2012, according to leading statistical data firm Statista, 25% of Premier League clubs in England alone had the name of an online casino, or well-known gambling company, front and centre on their club's jersey.

The trend has continued in an upward curve ever since. Coming into the start of the 2018/19 football season in Europe, the vast majority of top-flight teams have a partnership of some kind with one online gambling firm or another.

Two countries stand out more than the rest, namely England and Spain. From the current crop of twenty EPL teams, nine have kit sponsorship deals with gaming operators. These include West Ham (Betway), Fulham (Dafabet), Bournemouth (M88), Wolves (W88), Newcastle (Fun88) and Burnley (LaBa360).

If when you look around, you notice all the minor partnerships, which are usually phrased as 'Betting Partners'. You then see Man City (Betsafe), Arsenal (Betfair), Tottenham Hotspur (William Hill), Liverpool (BetVictor) and Manchester United (MoPlay).

The Championship, England's second-tier, is a who's who from the gambling world on the web.

It's no surprise to see bet365 still sponsoring Stoke City as Peter Coates is the chairman of both organisations. Also involved are 32Red, which sponsor four sides in this division (Leeds, Preston, Derby and Middlesbrough), LeoVegas has its name on two kits and 888, Dunder, Betfred, Magical Vegas, Royal Panda and Unibet all make an appearance as well.

Spain's La Liga sees three clubs: Levante, Leganes and Alaves sporting the Betway logo.

Girona has teamed up with Marathonbet, whilst Sevilla are with Playtika - the world's largest social casino. Curiously, no club from the German Bundesliga nor Italy's Serie A has a kit sponsorship deal with an online casino for the 2018/19 season. Yet, don't fear, they all still have their own small partnerships with the likes of bet365, Betfair, Bet-At-Home, Tipico, Betsafe and Betway among many others.

The perfect match?

In 2010, when bwin renewed its shirt deal with Real Madrid, it had to cough up an eye-popping €60 Million for the privilege. Betway's current deal with West Ham United is worth £10 Million, which although is someway shy of the cash bwin paid, it's still a handsome chunk. Everton receive £9.6 Million from SportPesa, Newcastle get £6.5 Million from Fun88 and so the list goes on.

So, why is there this attraction between these two forces? It's clear to see the financial benefit to the football clubs. The money is too good to turn down from their perspective. The modern game is all about success, and in most instances, money is needed to achieve that objective.

Although a hefty amount of money is forked out by these brands, it's a smart business move on their part. The Premier League alone is broadcast to more than 100 countries, and La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga are also popular on a global scale. You cannot watch a game these days without being bombarded with pitch side advertising boards promoting certain casinos or gambling sites. Viewers passively absorb this information creating brand awareness among hundreds of thousands of viewers.

The vast majority of the beautiful game's demographic, i.e. men between 25 - 50 years old, are a key target market. Naturally, there are plenty of supporters who like to have a punt on their team.

So, if you can bring them to an online multi-product platform with sports betting and a casino, a certain percentage will jump across. Also, fan loyalty is a big thing for many.

I can speak from personal experience and as a fan of Tottenham. At the time, I was playing online poker on a regular basis at 888poker. It was a good site, one of the best around, but then my club had Mansion on their shirt. I felt it was my "duty" to join. It wasn't as good as 888, not many players back then so you'd waiting ages for tables to fill, but it gave me a feeling of being closer to my club.

Dangers of this kind of sponsorship

On the surface, this strong bond between online casinos and European football clubs definitely looks like a win-win for everyone involved.

However, a concern we have is its influence on minors. Many teenagers follow their favourite teams with a passion, they buy the jerseys and watch the games (either live or on TV). Does seeing so much content related to gambling have an impact on them?

With this all being still relatively new, there is currently little research in this area to highlight any connection. Plus, all reputable casinos are on the button with KYC procedures these days in an attempt to crack down on this. Nevertheless, to us it's still an area which demonstrates the need for caution.

Last update: 30-09-2019
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