Around the world, countries have begun to crack down on the relationship between sports gambling entities and sports organizations. Specifically, the ability of operators to advertise their products and services during sporting events has been greatly curtailed. Team sponsorships have also come under fire, with Italy, the UK and others taking an anti-gambling position on shirt sponsorships. A new report has been produced that shows the impact the increased pressure has had on the UK soccer industry, but the long-term effects still aren’t known.
Gambling Sponsorships in the UK Plummet
The study, which was prepared by brand identity and sponsorship intelligence company Caytoo, centered on 221 UK teams in soccer, rugby and cricket. What it revealed is that gambling is no longer the go-to source for sponsorship deals in the sports world. Two years ago, the gambling industry controlled 15.3% of the market, but that has dropped to 8.1%. Betting brands that previously led the soccer market with their 32.7% control, are now only found in 15.2% of the clubs. By way of comparison, construction and engineering firms have become the preferred sponsor, getting 11.2.% of all main sponsor agreements.
The drop follows a dramatic shift in how gaming, governmental and advertising regulators in the UK addressed the gambling industry. There have been pushes to prohibit daytime gambling ads that have caused issues, as well as an effort to introduce a complete ban on all gambling ads. Companies are feeling the pressure and are responding to the continued assault they’re receiving from gambling opponents.
Permanent Gambling Sponsorships Suggested
In terms of sponsorships, a number of politicians have begun trying to force changes that have resulted in gambling companies already taking several steps backward as the future remains uncertain. Previous discussion on the subject in Parliament has led to UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston suggesting that complete sports sponsorship bans by gambling companies could be introduced if “evidence of harm” is determined. According to Caytoo Head of Research and Analysis Alex Burmaster, the shift in sponsorships is a result of that warning, and others, and he adds, “This change has been driven by the greater demand from society for professional sports to be more socially responsible when it comes to their fans and communities.”
Alcohol has lost ground, too, according to Burmaster. Booze sponsorships and sports have gone hand-in-hand for as long as both have been around, but a shift is occurring that makes businesses more responsible for consumers’ actions. As a result, long-standing sponsorship deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars are in jeopardy. However, other industries have been stepping in to fill the vacancies.
Caytoo points out that, in addition to construction playing a larger role in the sports sponsorship market, IT services, automotive companies and telecoms are increasing their participation. For some reason, which Caytoo didn’t mention, but that is probably tied to money, IT companies don’t target men’s teams, with six of eight new partnerships being signed with female teams.