With sports betting legislation looming over the Latin American region, it is imperative now more than ever for gambling brands and sports teams to place fans and customers at the forefront of collaborations.

Discussing how brands can make the most of agreements with sports teams and organisations, industry leaders on the ‘Marketing in a changing regulatory landscape’ panel at the SBC Digital Latinoamérica event delved into topics including sports sponsorships and regulating partnerships.

According to the Chief Marketing Officer at Parimatch International, Dmitry Belianin, it is essential to maintain a ‘dialogue’ between sports clubs, operators and audiences, as betting companies – which have to declare how much they spend on advertising – take an increased interest in partnering with teams and leagues.

He explained: “Sports sponsorship is a very important part of any business and I know that in Mexico, for example, there are a lot of companies – not just from the sports betting or gambling space – using this as the acquisition and brand building channel. This kind of sports sponsorship is helping both the team and the audience to find relevant products to earn some money but I still think that should be regulated.

“Mexican teams’ uniforms are full of emblems and sometimes it’s up to 15 sponsors on one single uniform so you can barely see the player behind that ad wall! There is room for regulation, but I think that’s a very important part of the game and I wouldn’t disallow that because at the end of the day, sport betting companies will find a way on how to advertise. It’s just a matter of your approach.”

Alvaro Ochoa, Country Manager at Rivalo, also highlighted that revenue generated by sponsorship agreements with betting brands has kept teams and leagues afloat during the pandemic.

“I agree in the sense that sponsoring has helped, especially to Colombian teams that have been hit hard in their finances,” Ochoa reasoned. “The closing of the stadiums and not being able to sell tickets to a live audience has really hurt the finances of teams. Had it not been for sports betting companies that basically filled that gap or that void with fresh resources, we would’ve seen a lot of local leagues failing that are struggling financially.

“But you have to do it in a responsible way. You don’t want a jersey full of stickers and competing advertisements running some in-stadium type of advertising, such as the video walls, the LEDs and then you have the jerseys full of those logos, so it helps.”

The gambling firm has since shifted its focus to lesser-known clubs which are in desperate need of funding, having been hit hard by the financial effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

He continued: “That should trickle down to the leagues that are not just soccer. We are trying to get ourselves involved in supporting amateur leagues and grassroots movements. Not all your primary focus should be on the main leagues.

“There are a lot of different athletes in different leagues that we support, and we as an operator can do that. So, it’s looking beyond the top flight and trying to understand where you can support with advertising in those local teams, not big leagues and grassroots.”

Learning from other industries’ mistakes was the consensus of Juan Camilo Carrasco’s – a Partner at Asensi Abogados – philosophy, with the panel moderator warning that if operators do not moderate their advertising inventory now, they may be legislated against it.

He remarked: “We know that in Colombia, the regulator is already thinking about programmes of responsible gambling and creating the metrics to understand how the advertising should be regulated in terms of marketing and how to avoid creating the same problem that the tobacco industry created some years ago, and the experiences in sports. 

“Moderating responsible advertising should be the message from operators to regulators so that they can address correctly and avoid legislation against advertising.”

SBC Digital Latinoamérica, on 2-3 March, is the premier online conference and exhibition for the betting and gaming industry in Latin America. Delegates can register for free here to join the event live or watch the conference sessions on demand.