The relationship between the betting and gaming industry and the sporting sector has come under increasing public scrutiny in the UK, but in regions such as the CIS it is still a popular means of boosting both revenue and brand awareness.

At this week’s SBC CIS Summit, four industry speiclaises highlighted trends and developments in sports sponsorships with a specific focus on the CIS region.

One of the key benefits of betting sponsorship arrangements, according to Adjarabet CMO Irakli Davarashvili, is that it can significantly strengthen the regional profile of international sports scenes and competitions by partnering with prominent local brands.

Pointing to his own firm’s arrangement with popular Georgian mixed martial artists such as Giga Chikadze, Davarashvili highlighted that this deal had increased the awareness of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the Caucasian country.

“In Georgia the UFC was not popular – three, four, five or six years ago none of this population knew the sport,” he explained.

“We were the pioneers where we have supported the young fighters for this one, and at the same time, four years ago or three years ago, we had this collaboration with Ajarasport and Setantasports, we started streaming the UFC exclusively, and we became the partners for the Georgian UFC fighter Giga Chikadze, who is now in eighth place. 

“From our perspective it was some kind of support on the local level for the sportsmen and at the same time it was a big opportunity for sportsmen to achieve much more because we gave them the platform.”

Joining his fellow panelist in commenting on combat sports, Aleksey Tserkovnyi, Favbet’s Marketing Director, observed that betting companies have the ability to support local athletes throughout their journey from regional stars to international figures, highlighting Ukraine’s heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandyr Usyk.

There are too many different examples, for example with Usyk, when he was local and then went into being a superstar,” he began. “It’s all about your strategy and what you want to reach with this. 

He continued: “Money is not only what sports betting can give to sports through sponsorship. It can also bring some other types of sources and also marketing support, which is really important because we know that sport also goes in from the marketing, and if you are well known you will have money not only from betting but from other industries also.”

Other guests focused on the different channels betting operators can leverage in order to engage with regional sports scenes, with Sam Bahar, COO at Tommorow Advertising, pointing to partnerships with bloggers and content creators.

He remarked: “I think when you provide support to athletes or you provide support to emerging talent, that’s obviously a very good alignment of your brand, but at the same time, we did a lot of things, where we supported sports bloggers, sports YouTube channel owners, sports content providers, and put them on the same journey as we would have done with an athlete. 

“I think that is a very important tactic, you’ve got people on the panel who have acquired content businesses if you like, and have moved into becoming broadcasters as much as operators.”

Lastly, Tamar Badashvili, Chief Strategy Officer at Setantasports Eurasia, noted that greater engagement with fans means that: “They are now watching their favourite team, and also they are emotional at that moment. These are positive emotions which can be linked to the brand.”

Offering her own views on the use of the correct channels, she observed that digital verticals are much more effective when interacting with younger sports fans: “Television is still one of the main sources to communicate your brand messages and campaigns and promotions, but we know that users can also be reached in digital channels which is a more effective course, because the conversion is much higher because we can reach the users who are wealthier and younger. 

“They know how to use their smartphones, they know how to use digital services including the auditory services not only the sports or the services but also for movies and for streaming.

To look from the company’s perspective, I would say that for brand communication, it’s one of the most important channels which is developing at the moment.”

To view the SBC Summit CIS visit the event’s official website.

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