It could be argued that sports and gaming go hand-in-hand, with an array of headlines over recent weeks and months echoing the close alliance that igaming and betting businesses have had with sports – and one that is, or could be, coming to end in many regions.
One of the latest companies to target the UK’s most beloved competition is Stake, which, in June, added a record-breaking deal with Merseyside club Everton FC to become the side’s front-of-shirt sponsor.
CasinoBeats spoke with Akhil Sarin, Head of Acquisition at Stake, to discover what it means to be involved with such a historic club, what it takes to create a successful collaboration and how this deal compares to previous sponsorships.
CasinoBeats: How much does it mean to be linked with such a historic Premier League club and associated with its passionate and loyal fanbase?
Akhil Sarin: At a time when betting and gaming partnerships with football clubs are still widespread, it’s a huge privilege to work with one of the most famous, historic and respected clubs in English football and their fanbase.
We appreciate the need to work constructively with the club and most importantly, the supporters, to play our part in backing Frank Lampard’s side in paying the best possible farewell to one of football’s most iconic stadia, Goodison Park, this season.
Along with the loyal Blues on Merseyside and further afield in the UK, we know that the club commands a huge fan base around the world and their major fixtures this season will be box office globally.
“Our first approach would be to assess how compatible the party is with the Stake brand”
CB: You have a wide portfolio of sporting partners, can you tell us some of the lessons you have learnt from these collaborations?
AS: When it comes to sport sponsorships, it’s key to activate them as fully as possible. There’s little point investing in huge names, events and organisations simply to add ribbons to a trophy, a logo to a kit or a handle to a social page.
Whether it be activation through social media and editorial content, PR activity or other efforts to engage fans, it’s vital to work with the partner to produce content that is authentic to their audience.
CB: What approach and strategy would you say Stake follows when deciding who to work with or sponsor?
AS: Our first approach would be to assess how compatible the party is with the Stake brand and our values including top tier entertainment, technological advancement and a compatibility with our like-minded audience who love crypto including its culture.
The party needs to command a global audience at scale and be a leader in their space, including a demonstration of how they engage their audience and followers through social media, editorial content and other activations.
CB: With big names such as Sergio Agüero working with the company, what do you do to maximise these collaborations?
AS: Sergio Aguero is now enjoying retirement meaning he can speak authoritatively on a wide range of topics. Football ambassadors aren’t new in our industry but in Sergio we have a name who was very recently playing at the very highest level and is an icon worldwide, so producing regular blog content with him which is picked up by media and fans globally allows us to maximise the value of having him on our roster.
“MMA is not only huge in a sporting sense in Brazil, but in popular culture terms too”
Another important factor in our work with Sergio is that like all of us at Stake, he loves streaming and the thrill of sports betting, so it’s an authentic collaboration and a natural fit when he streams online, or places sports bets on major events.
CB: Given MMA’s relevance in Brazil, what potential would you say the combat sport might have to compete with football once the sports betting market finally opens?
AS: MMA is not only huge in a sporting sense in Brazil, but in popular culture terms too, with the biggest fighters commanding huge status. Betting on the major MMA shows drives huge interest and there’s a natural crossover into customers who have an interest in cryptocurrencies and casinos too.
We were confident that MMA would generate huge betting interest in that territory and that’s why we became the first official betting partner of UFC there. We’ve been vindicated in that decision and in January Brazil will host a pay-per-view event for the first time since the COVID 19 pandemic. We’re excited for that and looking forward to further growth in MMA not just in Brazil but across the world.
CB: Continuing the firm’s MMA focus, you have also partnered with Israel Adesanya, who is quickly becoming an icon of the sport. Can you tell us more about this link and how much it means to the Stake brand?
AS: Israel Adesanya was one of our first global ambassadors and following our link up with him we’ve seen huge success in terms of a collaboration to produce engaging and authentic editorial and social media content.
“we have the gaming industry’s biggest and most unique partnership”
Him and his team have been willing to throw the doors open to us and the media prior to his major fights and this is key in terms of providing value to Stake’s brand and our audience.
CB: Can you tell us more about your partnership with hip hop legend, Drake and has it helped bring the Stake brand to new audiences?
AS: The collaboration with Drake was born out of his genuine love for the Stake.com platform. Anyone who knows and follows Drake will know that sports betting and casino gaming has always been a love of his, so the partnership evolved as our relationship grew once he started playing on Stake.com.
The content he shares and the betting journeys he documents are completely authentic and his experiences chime with anyone who likes to play, worldwide.
Whilst the market to back the biggest names in sport is hugely competitive worldwide, we believe that in popular culture and entertainment A-lister Drake we have the gaming industry’s biggest and most unique partnership, giving us access to an untapped market of potential customers who don’t follow sports, at scale.