The latest figures from research firm Caytoo have revealed that the betting and gaming industry has suffered a decline in the number of sponsorship agreements inked with professional sports teams.
Gambing has seen its share of sponsorships almost halve from 15.3 per cent to 8.1 per cent across football, rugby and cricket, falling into fourth place from the top position held two years prior.
Caytoo notes that this trend ‘has been driven entirely by football’ – although gambling remains the most prevalent sponsor for the world’s most popular sport, it has still seen its share decrease by more than half from 32.7 per cent to 15.2 per cent.
Alex Burmaster, head of research and analysis at Caytoo, stated: “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.
“In addition to gambling’s drop, alcohol has seen the second biggest reduction in prevalence while Environmental Services and Healthcare are among those with the biggest increases.”
Continuing, Burmaster referenced Norwich City FC’s recent termination of its sponsorship contract with online sportsbook BK8, following a public outcry from fans due to ‘sexually provocative’ marketing campaigns shared across the operator’s social media channels.
“A prime example of this change is Norwich City FC,” he added. “At the beginning of our research the club signed a deal with Asian betting firm BK8 but by the time the research finished Norwich had terminated the deal due to public pressure over the sexualised nature of BK8’s marketing activity and replaced them with Norfolk-based Lotus Cars who recently announced a £2.5bn investment to move to producing only electric vehicles.”
Although gambling sponsorships have been identified as a significant revenue driver for football – in addition to other sports – several Premier League clubs held a meeting earlier this year to discuss future marketing and branding arrangements.
As a result of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act, sponsorship deals between professional football clubs and the betting and gaming industry come under increasing scrutiny.
A blanket ban on gambling sports sponsorships has been predicted as ‘the most likely outcome’ of the review, and reportedly has the support of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet.
In comparison to gambling, the IT Services and Software, Automotive and Telecoms sectors have seen the largest increase in the number of main sponsorships, with each sector increasing its number of partners by eight, five and four respectively.
This has been attributed by Burmaster to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he argued has accelerated the shift to a more digital world and the increasing dominance of companies operating in that space’.
Of these IT Services and Software sponsorships, the bulk have focused on women’s sports, which is responsible for six of the eight agreements, which the researcher noted ‘shows how increasingly important female professional sport is seen as a way for companies to gain exposure and recognition’.