Gambling Filling the Gap In Sports Sponsorships


Sports supporters globally can still reflect on a time when the Benson and Hedges Cup kept cricket fans entertained when the Silk Cut Challenge Cup was a highlight on the rugby events calendar. When the Embassy World Snooker Championship was much anticipated and who will ever forget the image of F1 cars speeding on the tracks, camouflaged to appear like large packets of Marlboro cigarettes. It was a time when the tobacco industry dominated the world of sponsoring sports teams. A time before strict tobacco laws prohibited them from doing so. Now the gap which was left by tobacco companies is filled by the gambling industry.

Tobacco and Sports Had a Lucrative Relationship

The tobacco industry and the world of professional sports were infused in a productive relationship. The funding which came from cigarette companies were crucial in expanding the interest in various sports. Cigarette companies helped to build games into the globally loved and recognized brands which they are today. Cigarette companies caught the attention of young fans and through optimal utilization of their needs, attitudes and intentions gained a broad audience. Then legislation surrounding tobacco changed the face of the international sporting arena.

The Gambling Industry Filled the Gap

The tobacco industry left a gap in the sport sponsorship market wide open, soon to be filled with new names. The names of gambling companies. Fans started to watch the Coral Challenge Cup and the Sky Bet Championship. Football, in particular, took the influence of gambling companies to the next level by not only having sponsored tournaments and cups but also wearing jerseys with their branding on and having them advertise in their stadiums. During the 2019-20 Premier League, roughly 50% of the participating clubs were wearing jerseys which were sponsored by a partner in the gambling industry.

Increased Spending on Gambling Advertising

Since the Gambling Act in 2005 relaxed the legislation regarding advertising rules for gambling companies in the UK, the amount of money spent by these companies skyrocketed. In 2018 alone, UK Betting spent a total of £328 million on direct advertising. Supporters of events, both young and old, are being bombarded with advertisements during breaks, online marketing and the ever-presence of logos on stadium walls and shirts. There is a new player in the business of the sports sponsoring industry, and they too knew the benefit of attracting the attention of younger fans.

Now new evidence is revealing that this kind of advertising to hurts supporters, especially the ever-popular younger crowd. Australian researchers seem to be at the forefront of finding a strong correlation between push marketing and portraying gambling as a lucrative venture, ending up in increased reckless gambling by the younger crowd. Again legislation regarding these kinds of advertising is placed under the spotlight, and the request was aired that governments should consider applying the same sort of strict law enforced on to tobacco companies onto gambling companies too. They are leaving fans wondering which industry will be next to infiltrate our stadiums and be branded on team jerseys.