Sport and online casino, including sponsorships and bans

The football teams that have agreed to host the online casino logo on their shirts are now very numerous. Let’s say that for many years gambling has been considered by society as a kind of taboo subject and only with the progressive legalization of online gambling has there been the circulation of advertising campaigns related to this issue. It is a phenomenon that has affected all major European leagues, especially the Premier League (the highest English category and probably the most followed league in the world), the Spanish League, the German Bundesliga and the French League (better known as Ligue 1) . ) and ours too (but only until 2018).

Decree of Dignity: Prohibited Advertising in Casinos in Italy

Unlike in the rest of Europe, the combination of football (and sport in general) and casino sponsorship in Italy no longer exists. To remedy this status quo, in recent times Italian companies have found some tricks that have allowed them to limit the damage, bypassing the bans but respecting the laws. The most imaginative solution is represented by the introduction of sports news sites that clearly reflect the name of the online casino. This is the case, for example, of Starcasinò Sport, a news portal about football and other sports unrelated to the game, although in fact its name recalls one of the leading Italian online casinos: Starcasino. In other cases, the most popular solution is represented by sponsorships abroad: in practice, Italian teams combine their brand with that of casinos only in foreign markets, such as Asia, which is always very flourishing.

Until 2018, partnerships between high-profile sports clubs and online gaming operators were a constantly evolving phenomenon. The teams sold advertising space, earning significant monetary income and ensuring casinos a lot of visibility on television and in stadiums. The so-called Decree of Dignity has changed the cards on the table, an act much desired by the majority government, Movimento Cinque Stelle and Lega, which, among other things, introduced the absolute ban on advertising linked in any way to the game .

All this stems from the fact that the provision had the noble aim of combating gambling addictions but, beyond the ideological positions on the issue, there is no denying how it caused, in the first place, a decrease in tax revenue and the invoicing of an offer. chain that still gives me work for thousands of people. According to an independent estimate, in 2018 three out of four Serie A teams had a sponsorship relationship with a gambling operator, for a total value of about 30 million euros, while the loss from the 2018 to date is estimated at about 150 million euros.

The rule remains in place and it does not appear that the situation is about to change in the immediate future, although sports federations are pushing for corrective action. Despite numerous criticisms, however, it is rumored that executives from other European countries (Spain and possibly England) are considering taking similar measures, also given that the game is reserved for an adult audience and between the public. of sporting events there are many young people and children.

Football and gambling: business is business

Obviously, the aspect that links gambling operators with sports clubs is primarily “base money”. Currently, in fact, there are very few realities that can guarantee visibility at the highest levels such as football teams. Suffice it to say that every match, thanks to television and online streaming, is now watched by millions of fans and the audience expands in the case of poster matches in tournaments like the Champions League. By doing a quick calculation, taking into account not only the logos displayed on the t-shirts but also the billboards on the sidelines, advertising breaks and overlays on the screen, a brand can be viewed several dozen times by the same user. Multiplying by the number of spectators present at the stadium (often between 50,000 and 80,000 per match) and the others connected remotely, stratospheric figures come out and a return in terms of huge visibility. Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the sale of official products: being able to place your brand on the shirts, shorts, cups, glasses of a football team can be another very important advertising vehicle. Fans are always looking for products with the brands of their favorite team and the sale of merchandising has become a very important chapter in the finances of all top clubs.

On the other hand, the most famous teams have become true multinationals and, therefore, any form of entry is always a panacea, especially given the steadily rising costs of the transfer market and the salaries of players. , now on the rise since the 1990s. If a few decades ago companies could afford to carefully select their partners based on considerations not only economic but also related to the image and values ​​of the company, the worsening of accounts as a result of the forced shutdown caused by the pandemic and the consequent box office revenue failures It has certainly facilitated the entry into the game scene, which was already quite present even before 2020.

Just during the darkest months of the pandemic emergency, when billions of people were forced to stay home after confinement, online casinos experienced an increase in revenue and are therefore now in conditions to offer companies the classic “a proposal that can not be rejected.” “for its own economic advantage. In addition, to complete the picture of the situation, it must also be borne in mind that among athletes there is a very large share of betting fans, therefore, for operators in the sector is a extremely fertile land and with a high strategic value.

English gambling and football

A few numbers could help to better understand the dimensions of the phenomenon. In the 2021-22 season, only one Premier League team started the league without having a sponsorship relationship related to gambling, until nine featured a casino logo on the front of their shirt and the Leicester even boasted of the record with five partners, including Betway and Bet365, two of the most present operators as they are linked to three and five teams respectively. The richest sponsorship was between Betway and West Ham, valued at £ 10 million per season. Globally, during the pre-pandemic season, the top teams in the English league amassed about £ 70 million in collaborations with casinos, or around 20% of global sponsorship. One of the longest trade relations is between Tottenham Hotspur and William Hill, which has been maintained since 2016.

The situation in Spain

League teams have also found that gambling advertising is a major source of funding. The agreement that caused the most sensation was undoubtedly the one signed between Bwin and Real Madrid, which contributed 20 million a year to the coffers of the White House in the period between 2007 and 2013. To understand how important it is this item in the annual accounts of Spanish companies, it is enough to consider that up to 17 out of 20 clubs in the League have commercial relations with casinos and bookmakers. From the 2019 season, however, the Iberian legislature has introduced limitations that involve the insertion of brands on T-shirts and advertising signs. It is estimated that these restrictions could mean a loss of revenue for the equipment quantifiable at about 80 million euros per year.

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