Betting Is Deep-Rooted In Football, But The Future Is Uncertain
We see a growing number of major football clubs in the United Kingdom forging strong partnerships with major online sports betting brands and the best of the emerging talent. In the English Premier League, you’ll notice more teams than ever before advertising bookies as their shirt sponsors, and this trend carries down through the many EFL divisions as well as across the border into Scottish football.
Both halves of the Old Firm – Glasgow Rangers and Celtic – have betting apps on their light blue or green and white hooped shirts. Bovada is a trusted name in gambling, and they too have a plan to increase their involvement in professional football across the UK, and it shouldn’t be too long before you see that brand associated with at least one top club. And who can blame them?
A global attraction
UK football is followed across the globe, with the English Premier League and Scottish Premiership attracting a global fanbase. Games are broadcast live on major television stations and live streaming apps, while those with a passion for the game and the cash to spare travel to England as often as possible on planes, trains, boats and cars to watch their favourite teams and players battle for three points.
Advertising on team official professional shirts and replica merchandise sold to millions of fans every season is the most popular way to promote a betting brand. Still, it doesn’t come cheap, and it is often reserved only for the most successful bookies. But there are other options for ambitious firms aspiring to reach the top. We are seeing more bookies advertise on shirt sleeves or at the bottom of the back.
They are also talking over the name of the stadiums for a season or two, with some even rebranding the training ground. Banners at the pitchside offer a less expensive way to advertise, but with the games and highlights receiving millions of views every week, this approach represents value for money.
In exchange for the millions spent advertising at football, major betting apps receive even more income through new members and repeat business. The income of the top sites is staggering, supported in the UK mostly by football and horse racing followers. The EPL isn’t just the most-watched division in the world; it’s also the most bet on.
Then there’s the official team betting partner, operating a betting office at the stadium where they target home fans with match odds, specials and promotions, including free bets. With more bookies advertising each season, it shows how successful past campaigns have been, but links between football and gambling may be surviving on borrowed time.
Critics highlight the dangers
Critics of the industry believe betting apps know their days are numbered, similar to the situation we saw in the 1980s and 1990s with tobacco and alcohol products banned from advertising in sports like football, darts, tennis and boxing. Could we see a ban on bookies in the Premier League? There are enough rumours circulating online to suggest it’s more than mere gossip.
What is all the fuss about? Surely bookies pumping money into the national sport, from the Premier League to grassroots, is good for the game, gives supporters the best product possible and helps invest in the next generation of England players. That’s all true, but we have seen in recent years that online gambling is not without its dangers. Problem gambling is on the rise, with a growing number of cases reported each year, despite the best efforts of the UK government, the Football Association, Premier League, FIFA and the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, which regulates the industry.
The dangers associated with problem gambling were easier to manage during the days of high-street betting, but with most wagers placed on smartphone apps behind closed doors, things have changed, and the protections in place must evolve too. We have seen the start of things to come with bookmakers banned from advertising on television during football matches, including in-play betting odds at half-time.
This measure was introduced with the hope of discouraging armchair fans from making quick bets or snap decisions on how a game might play out, risking cash on the result. What’s next for football in betting? Things are getting interesting.