Gambling blog

The Marriage of Sports and Sports Gambling

In days gone by, sports teams and players did all they could to distance themselves from the sports gambling community. It was always considered taboo for any player to be seen in the company of a professional gambler or bookmaker. The mere appearance of impropriety was enough to cause friction between players and their respective sports leagues.
Here we are in 2019 and times have surely changed. Due in large part to the increased acceptance of online gambling, particularly sport gambling, there’s an impending marriage about to take place between sports and the sports betting community.
US Supreme Sets the Table
Setting aside European football (soccer) leagues for a moment, a large majority of the most popular betting markets are located in the US. The list of these markets includes the NFL, MLB, NHL, MLB and major NCAA sports.
There was always an overriding need for US sports leagues to stay away from the gambling community. Athletes who enjoy casino gambling and betting on sports other than their own have gotten a ridiculous amount of scrutiny under the umbrella of trying to protect the integrity of professional sports.
In May of 2019, something very important took place. The US Supreme court decided the 2006 federal ban against sports betting in the United States violated states rights and the US Constitution. After decades of debate, each state was finally given the authority to decide for itself whether or not its residents could legally bet on sports.
As was anticipated, several states immediately passed legislation that would allow its resident to bet on sports. Furthermore, some states have even gone so far as to also legalize online sports betting. Among the states already raking in revenues from sports bettors are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Oregon and Mississippi among others who join Nevada, which has allowed sports gambling for more than five decades. By the way, there are at least a dozen other states that are looking closely at following suit and legalizing sports gambling activities.
The Marriage is Forming
While the integrity of sports is still a major concern, the pursuit of revenues and profits trumps all else. In both Europe and the United States, gambling operators are aggressively pursuing corporate sponsorship deals tied to major sports leagues and teams.
It’s really hard to argue about the reality there is a natural bond between sports and the people who love to wager on sports. It’s not a coincidence that hundreds of billions of dollars are wagered on sports every year. Up until a few years ago, much of the sports betting that took place was illegal, or in some cases, questionable. Slowly but surely, we are experiencing the union of two huge industries, sports and gambling.
In Europe, nine different premiere league teams count gambling operators as the team’s primary jersey sponsor. Included on this list are Bournemouth (M88), Everton (SportPesa), Fulham (Dafabet), Newcastle United (Fun88), West Ham United (Betway) and Wolverhampton (W88) among others. At the league level, SkyBet is sponsoring the EFL (English Football League) and Ladbrokes is sponsoring the Scottish Premiership.
In the United States, three major gambling conglomerates (Caesars International, Golden Nugget and MGM Resorts) are jockeying to align themselves with major professional sports leagues. MGM Resorts was the first to ink a sponsorship deal with the NBA. They also have partnerships with the NHL and MLB. Not to be outdone, Caesars just wrapped up a major deal with the coveted NFL.
Next up, we are seeing a number of professional franchise owners who are jumping into the fray. The NFL’s New York Jets are already aligned with MGM Resorts and 888 Casino while European gambling conglomerate William Hill has already inked deals with the Vegas Golden Knights and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens are affiliated with Caesars International.
From a marketing perspective, this is the pot at the end of the rainbow that gambling concerns have been pursuing for years. For the teams and leagues, the infusion of sponsorship revenues should help a great help with the rising cost of player salaries. At the end of the day, it’s a marriage that will likely stand the test of time. We can expect to see a lot more relationships being announced in the very near future.