Football is one of the most popular and lucrative sports in the world, attracting millions of fans and generating billions of dollars in revenue. As such, it is also a fertile ground for various forms of sponsorship, especially from the gambling industry. Casino sponsorship in football is a common practice that has been around for decades, but it also raises some ethical and legal questions. In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of casino sponsorship in football, as well as some of the best and worst examples of this phenomenon.
What are the best and worst examples of casino sponsorship in football?
Casino sponsorship in football has produced some successful and unsuccessful cases over the years, depending on the factors mentioned above. Here are some of the best and worst examples of this phenomenon:
- Best examples:
- Bet365 and Stoke City: Bet365 is one of the largest and most reputable online gambling companies in the world, and it has a long-standing and strong relationship with Stoke City, a football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Bet365 has been the shirt sponsor of Stoke City since 2012, and it also owns the stadium naming rights of the bet365 Stadium. Bet365 has supported Stoke City through its promotion to the Premier League in 2008, its relegation to the Championship in 2018, and its current efforts to return to the top flight. Bet365 has also contributed to the local community by creating jobs, funding sports facilities, and donating to charities.
- Bwin and Real Madrid: Bwin is another leading online gambling company that has a history of sponsoring football giants, such as AC Milan, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United. However, its most notable partnership was with Real Madrid, one of the most successful and popular clubs in the world. Bwin was the shirt sponsor of Real Madrid from 2007 to 2013, and it also became the official betting partner of the club in 2018. Bwin benefited from the global exposure and prestige that Real Madrid provided, while Real Madrid enjoyed the financial and technological support that Bwin offered.
- Casinos with boku and various football clubs: Boku is a mobile payment service that allows users to make online purchases using their phone numbers and charge them to their prepaid or postpaid mobile accounts. This service is convenient, secure, and anonymous, as it does not require any credit card or bank account information. Boku has partnered with several online casinos that accept this payment method, such as Casino Cruise, Genesis Casino, and Casumo Casino1. These casinos have also sponsored various football clubs, such as Fulham FC, Aston Villa FC, and Wigan Athletic FC. These partnerships have enabled both parties to reach new markets and customers, especially in regions where online gambling is regulated or restricted.
- Worst examples:
- 666Bet and various football clubs: 666Bet was an online gambling company that operated from 2014 to 2015. It sponsored several football clubs in England and Scotland, such as Leyton Orient FC, West Bromwich Albion FC, and Dundee United FC. However in 2015, 666Bet was shut down by the UK Gambling Commission due to allegations of money laundering and fraud. The company’s customers were unable to access their accounts or withdraw their funds, while the sponsored clubs were left without a sponsor and a source of income.
- Fun88 and Newcastle United: Fun88 is an online gambling company that operates mainly in Asia. It has been the shirt sponsor of Newcastle United, a football club based in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, since 2017. However in 2020, Newcastle United fans launched a boycott campaign against Fun88 after the club’s proposed takeover by a Saudi Arabian consortium was blocked by the Premier League. The fans accused Fun88 of being complicit in the takeover failure and demanded that the club end its sponsorship deal with the company. The fans also claimed that Fun88’s gambling products were harmful and unethical.
- SportPesa and various football clubs: SportPesa is an online gambling company that operates mainly in Africa. It has sponsored several football clubs in Europe and Africa, such as Everton FC, Hull City FC, Arsenal FC, Cape Town City FC, and Gor Mahia FC. However [in 2020], SportPesa faced several challenges that affected its sponsorship deals. In Kenya, SportPesa’s license was revoked by the government due to tax disputes and regulatory issues. In the UK, SportPesa terminated its contracts with Everton FC and Racing Point F1 Team due to financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In South Africa [in 2021], SportPesa’s sponsorship of Cape Town City FC was suspended by the court due to a legal dispute with a local partner.
What are the benefits of casino sponsorship in football?
Casino sponsorship in football can have several advantages for both parties involved, such as:
- Revenue generation: Casino sponsorship can provide a significant source of income for football entities, especially in times of economic hardship or uncertainty. For example, according to a report by GlobalData, the English Premier League clubs earned a total of £349.1 million from shirt sponsorship deals in the 2020/21 season, with gambling companies accounting for 10% of that amount. For casino companies, sponsoring football entities can increase their customer base and sales volume, as well as their market share and competitiveness.
- Brand awareness: Casino sponsorship can enhance the visibility and reputation of both the casino company and the football entity. By associating themselves with a popular and respected sport, casino companies can improve their image and credibility among potential customers and stakeholders. By partnering with a well-known and trusted casino company, football entities can boost their fan loyalty and engagement, as well as their global reach and appeal.
- Social responsibility: Casino sponsorship can also have a positive social impact, as both parties can use their influence and resources to support various causes and initiatives that benefit the wider community. For example, some casino companies donate a percentage of their profits to charitable organizations or fund educational programs that promote responsible gambling. Some football entities use their casino sponsors’ funds to invest in youth development, grassroots sports, or environmental sustainability.
What are the drawbacks of casino sponsorship in football?
Casino sponsorship in football can also have some negative consequences for both parties involved, such as:
- Ethical concerns: Casino sponsorship in football can raise some moral and ethical issues, especially regarding the potential harm that gambling can cause to individuals and society. Some critics argue that casino sponsorship normalizes and glamorizes gambling among vulnerable groups, such as children, young people, or problem gamblers. They also claim that casino sponsorship exploits the emotional attachment that fans have to their favorite teams or players, and influences their betting behavior and decisions.
- Legal challenges: Casino sponsorship in football can also face some legal challenges, depending on the jurisdiction and regulation of gambling activities. Some countries or regions have strict laws that prohibit or restrict gambling advertising or sponsorship in sports. For example, in 2019, the UK government launched a review of gambling laws that proposed to ban all gambling-related advertising in sports. Some other countries or regions have more lenient laws that allow gambling sponsorship but impose certain conditions or limitations. For example in Spain, gambling companies can sponsor football entities but cannot use players’ images or names in their ads.
- Reputation risks: Casino sponsorship in football can also pose some reputation risks for both parties involved if they fail to meet their contractual obligations or expectations.
Casino sponsorship in football is a controversial topic that has both positive and negative aspects. On one hand, it can provide financial benefits, brand awareness, and social responsibility for both casino companies and football entities. On the other hand, it can raise ethical concerns, legal challenges, and reputation risks for both parties involved. Casino sponsorship in football should be carefully considered and regulated by all stakeholders involved: casino companies, football entities, governments, regulators, fans, customers, and society at large.