The discussion around gambling sponsorships is constantly evolving as the general public’s relationship with betting firms fluctuate while governments discuss and impose tougher restrictions on betting partnerships, particularly football.

With the Spanish government looking to pass a blanket ban on football clubs showing betting sponsors and the threat of stricter restrictions in the UK, the question being faced for gambling sponsors is how to continue reaching a crucial demographic if new rules are imposed?

Speaking at SBC Summit Barcelona- Digital, Dan Towse, the head of brand at Marathonbet, explained that what operators need to do is create valuable relationships with teams to create a trusted relationship with their fanbase. However, the clubs also need to be more prepared to work with sponsors, especially if stricter restrictions come in.

“You can’t just badge a logo on a shirt and expect it to drive a serious amount of value for your business there needs to be a lot more of an emotional connection,” commented Towse.

“It is getting harder for the sector but at the same time, I think rights holders are going to have to adapt as well. I don’t think their reliance is fully on gaming companies or brands from other sectors regardless of what they’re promoting. The rights holders need to adapt and help us to be able to drive value from those sponsorships.

“If you looked at some of the data that was shared last year I think for shirt sponsorship in the Premier League, the gaming sector was paying double what other retail sectors could offer. Now if we do find ourselves in say 5/10 years, it might even be sooner, then those sponsorships can’t be so overt as what they are now. What are clubs going to be offering in replacement? Or what can we do differently to still drive that awareness of both our brand and our products?”

The panel continued its discussion on the importance of establishing the correct partnership with a club, with a particular emphasis being placed on brands that use the sponsorship to create a trusted fanbase. Dean Akinjobi, CEO, Football Media discussed that the road shouldn’t stop at signing a deal with a club. Further activations need to be implemented to integrate yourself with the team, creating a relationship with its fans.

Akinjobi said: “I think that one of the things we find is that even when you’re going into these markets, where you’ve got a global sponsorship, it comes down to how you activate it.

“It’s really important to leverage those assets across multiple channels such as fan sites, because most fans don’t spend a huge amount of time on the official website, those fans go to the official website, stay there for a period of time, then recent news and then go to the unofficial channels. 

“Some YouTube channels that we work with are have more followers of fans like an actual official website.”

Neill Simpson, Brand Director, Mr Green agreed with the statement expressing that sponsors should not expect to be ‘done and dusted’ as soon as the rights fee has been made.

Simpson added: “Actually, your level of investment outside of that is almost more important than the sponsorship money itself.

“We’ve done individual sponsorships, boxing events for example, you can maximise those to the hilt and push, whether it be new product launches that you’re doing, expansion in markets, new entry, whatever it might be, you can still make so much out of that by actually leveraging the property that you’ve invested in.”

Nikita Lazarev, Senior Sponsorship Manager, Parimatch also explained that athlete sponsorship could prove to be a successful strategy for the gaming industry, if the correct person is chosen.

Lazarev commented: “It really depends who you partner with and it’s very important that you not just partner with an athlete but some who can spark the industry.

Conor McGregor is a great example in my personal opinion because he always get attention. If he goes on Twitter, he posts something it goes viral. He goes on Instagram and says something, it goes worldwide.

“If you have this opportunity to bring the athletes and do stuff with them, it is very important that you do so.”

The panel, which was moderated by Martin Calvert, the marketing director ICS-digital – Spotlight Sports Group, ultimately were in agreement that despite tougher restrictions on gambling sponsorship looming, both entities can still gain significant value from deal in different avenue, as Carmelo Mazza, the CEO of OIA Services, highlighted.

Mazza concluded: “So the experience I have is that no matter what the restrictions are, for example in the case of Italy which has tough restrictions, sponsorship keeps remaining very important.

“The point is that we need to create new ways and leverage on new digital technologies in order to avoid the bad and of course this increases the importance of selecting properly and having long term relationships.

“Of course this opens up the questions about the meaning of such restrictions. Of course, this is a different discussion, but at least I believe that sponsorship value is there also within countries with tough restrictions.”

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