Online Casinos Fall in Love with the Beautiful Game

Sponsorship deals between online betting brands and European football clubs have more than doubled in the last five years. The reason for this blossoming of the relationship is twofold: a clearerregulatory framework for online gambling in the UK and Spain combined with the worldwide recession. Only time will tell whether other European countries follow the UK’s example with regulations that make it clear what kind of online casino advertising is permitted. Meanwhile, with online casinos becoming increasingly aware of markets in Asia (where European football is very popular), their love of the beautiful game may yet grow stronger.

UK Casino Regulation

Since UK law was changed in 2007 allowing gambling companies to advertise on television, many online casinos have taken the opportunity to form partnerships with football clubs to promote their services. Sports betting websites feature most prominently but online casino site logos, such as Genting at Aston Villa or 888.com at Middlesborough, are an increasingly common sight.
Meanwhile, across the border, William Hill began its sponsorship of the Scottish Cup in 2011 in a deal estimated to be worth £1m per year.

Not always plane sailing…
Only companies with a betting license authorised by one of the gambling authorities on the UK government’s whitelist can advertise on UK television. Lack of this license is the reason at least one deal, between 777ball.com and Cardiff City, collapsed. 777ball.com is regulated in the Philippines, which is not on the UK gambling commission’s whitelist.

And since Championship games have begun being televised even clubs from England’s second tier have been able to attract lucrative sponsorship deals including some from online gambling organisations.

The Recession

While total jersey sponsorship revenue for UK Premiership clubs remains on the climb, the recession may have meant interest from non-gaming sectors has fallen in recent years. This could be another reason that gambling operators have been able to set up deals such as those of 188Bet and 32Red with Bolton and Wigan, each for less than £1m per year. Of course not all deals are as small as these.

League

Start

End

Team Online Casino

Deal (per year)

Spain

2010

2013

Real Madrid Bwin

£16.8m

Italy

2006

2010

AC Milan Bwin

£9.0m

UK

2006

2010

Tottenham Mansion

£8.5m

UK

2011

2013

Aston Villa Genting

£8.0m

France

2011

2012

Lyon BetClic

£7.5m

France

2011

2012

Marseille BetClic

£6.5m

Italy

2010

2012

Juventus BetClic

£5.0m

UK

2007

2010

Sunderland Boyle Sports

£2.5m

UK

2011

2012

West Bromwich Albion Bodog

£2.0m

UK

2011

2013

Manchester City Mansion

£2.0m

Spain

2009

2011

Sevilla 12Bet

£2.0m

Spain

2010

2012

Barcelona Betfair

£1.8m

UK

2009

2011

West Ham SBO Bet

£1.7m

Spain

2011

2012

Real Betis Cirsa

£1.5m

UK

2006

2008

Aston Villa 32 Red

£1.0m

UK

2009

2011

Bolton 188Bet

£0.8m

UK

2011

2012

Wigan Athletic 32 Red

£0.7m

UK

2009

2012

Notthingham Forest Victor Chandler

£0.5m

UK

2009

2010

Hull Totesport.com

£0.5m

UK

2009

2011

Wolverhampton Wanderers SportingBet

£0.4m

UK

2004

2008

Middlesborough 888.com
UK

2008

2009

Swansea City 32 Red
UK

2010

2012

Tottenham SportingBet
UK

2010

2012

Sunderland Tombola
UK

2011

2012

Wigan Athletic 12Bet
UK

2009

2011

Wigan Athletic 188Bet
UK

2006

2007

Blackburn Bet 24
UK

2007

2008

Leeds Bet 24
UK

2010

2011

Cardiff SBO Bet
Spain

2009

2011

Atletico de Madrid PAF
Scotland

2011

2012

Ayr United Bodog
Romania

2009

2011

Steaua Bucuresti SportingBet
Poland

2009

2011

Wisla Krakow Bet At Home
Poland

2009

2011

Lech Poznan BetClic
Ireland

2011

2012

Bohemians DublinBet.com
Cyprus

2011

2012

Apollon Limassol Betfair
Bulgaria

2009

2011

Slavia Sofia SportingBet
Spain

2006

2009

Sevilla 888.com
Spain

2011

2012

Sevilla Interapuestas.com
Spain

2009

2011

Malaga William Hill
Spain

2011

2012

RCD Mallorca Bet At Home

Sources: Daily Mail and FC Business

Casino Sponsorship in Spain and Italy

English and Scottish football are by no means the only leagues to have benefited from sports betting and casino and sponsorship. The Spanish and Italian leagues in particular have benefitted hugely from gaming sponsorship revenues in recent years with record deals announced with increasing regularity, mirroring the ever huger sums paid to players.
The single biggest online casino sponsorship deal so far agreed (as of March 2012) is that between Real Madrid and bwin. Party. As well as being one of the most famous sports betting brands, Bwin also owns PartyPoker.com and several bingo and casino sites. Its deal with Real Madrid is rumoured to be worth almost £17 million per year to the club.
Just looking at shirt sponsorship deals by online casinos and sports betting websites reveals that the number of clubs with these brands on their sleeves has more than doubled in the last five years. Meanwhile, with purse strings tightening and with new partnerships being formed all the time it looks like revenue from online gaming companies will only become more important to European football clubs in 2012 and beyond.

Casino sponsorships for football in Spain and the UK