Sponsorship for sports clubs, sportsmen and women, and different sporting events is something quite necessary to the survival of sport. Deals are struck up that should benefit both sides, with the sports clubs receiving masses of money from their sponsors for the team members to wear their logo on their kit.
In theory, this brings the attention of that brand to the viewers both in the stadiums and watching on television, further spreading their name.
Of course, some of these sponsorship deals are monumental in the amount paid for them, and that’s precisely what we’re going to be looking at here. The biggest gambling sponsorship deals to have ever taken place. Which teams and players are backed by some of the biggest gambling companies and for the largest amounts of money?
Gambling has had quite a foot in the door over the years when it comes to sponsoring sports teams, especially those surrounding football. Obviously, football is a big sport with millions of viewers around the world, so it’s only natural that gambling brands would like to involve themselves with such teams, as it promotes their sports betting and gambling sites perfectly. Let’s find out what the biggest gambling sponsorship deals are.
Spor Toto Pays £125M to Sponsor 3 Turkish Leagues
One of the most monumental sponsorship deals came about in 2010, when Spor Toto (a government-run sports betting operator) agreed to sponsor three of the top four football leagues in Turkey.
It was from this deal that the Spor Toto Super League was born, and while this isn’t specifically relative to the sponsorship of an actual team, it has a link up to sports. The five-year deal would see Spor Toto pay out $25 million each year until 2015, and the brand’s logo would be splayed across all three of those top tier leagues’ stadiums.
Granted, the Spor Toto Super League had existed prior to this time – just using the name Millî Lig when it was established in 1959. Today, going simply by the name of Süper Lig, there’s little doubt that the money invested into it by Spor Toto has helped it to get to where it is today. The brand still sponsors the top-tier league to this day.
As it happens, of the world’s 358 active sports sponsorship deals, Spor Toto has the highest spend overall. With five deals in operation at the moment, it has been spending around $29.5 million per year on these. The Süper Lig sponsorship deal also remains its largest sponsorship, with a current value of £28 million per year.
Betclic Sponsors Juventus for $21.4 Million
The French online betting company Betclic has had sponsorship deals with a few different football clubs over the years. Its first one was with Olympique Lyonnais, and that deal was brought into effect for the 2010-11 season. It was in 2010 though, that the brand became the official sponsor for not only Olympique de Marseille but Italian team Juventus as well.
The deal ran for two years and allowed Betclic to be exposed to the Italian market in a much bigger way, being displayed across the players’ black and white shirts. The deal that was made was probably done at a much lower price than it could have been, considering that at the time, Juventus had been demoted to Serie B in 2006 due to a huge match-fixing scandal known as Calciopoli. The team were back in Serie A by 2010 and were attempting to clear their name. Clearly, this scandal didn’t stop Betclic from wanting to be associated with them.
Juventus not only needed sponsorship deals for the cash purpose, but because new players and a new coach were desperately needed on side. Obviously, the deal worked out with Betclic managed to boost the team’s sponsorship revenues, although a key point is that the gambling company only sponsored the home kit of Juventus. The away kit wasn’t made a part of the same deal.
A continuing deal wasn’t able to be sorted for the 2012-13 season though, and Juventus signed a deal with Fiat instead. Betclic, on the other hand, stayed out of the sporting spotlight for a while, before returning in 2018 as the sponsor of rugby club Union Bordeaux Bègles.
Betway Sponsors West Ham United
While this deal isn’t anywhere close to the deals forged between Spor Toto and the three top Turkish leagues, UK betting company Betway has one of the largest sponsorship deals in operation. The brand has sponsored West Ham United since 2015, and this deal was renewed last year in a long-term plan. This has certainly been of benefit to the football club, with initiatives like the Betway Academy and Betway Fan Taxi becoming available during the course of the deal.
Originally, when the deal was struck in 2015, it was worth £6 million, although the extension the following year saw West Ham earn £10 million per season. That deal is to continue through 2020, but as noted, a further extension was signed last year to continue on until 2025. So far, the deal has seen West Ham receive around £56 million from the betting company. The £10 million per year is reportedly what the new deal is worth too, meaning that by the time 2025 rolls around, Betway will have given £96 million to the football club in sponsorship revenue. That is said to be a record extension and deal for the betting company.
Of course, while football sponsorship deals make up the largest number of the 358 active deals around the world, horse racing and basketball are said to be quite popular for this in their own rights. Horse racing possesses 14% of the active deals and basketball holds another 6% of those.
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
It’s not only football teams that Betway is in the habit of sponsoring, but it has a significant presence in the horse racing world, too. At the moment, it sponsors the Queen Mother Champion Chase, although this has been sponsored by several other gambling companies before, including BetVictor and Sportingbet.
Betway first became the sponsor of the event back in 2015, and then in 2017 signed another three-year deal extension to keep the sponsorship in place. Of course, it’s not always been high positives for the Betway brand. It was only earlier on in 2020 that the company was fined £11.6 million by the UK Gambling Commission due to failings in the social responsibility and anti-money-laundering sectors. Being linked up with horse racing events like this one won’t particularly have a great effect on public image.
SportPesa Involves Itself in Everton’s Sponsorship
In 2017, Everton opted to sign a five-year deal with Kenyan sports betting operator SportPesa. That deal was supposedly worth £9.6 million per year – only £400,000 less than the deal between Betway and West Ham. That deal ran ideally for the 2017, 18 and 19 seasons, although earlier on in 2020, Everton opted to end the deal with SportPesa at the end of the season. This decision, the football club said, was made following a review of its commercial strategy in line with future growth plans.
That being said, the deal has remained at the same price throughout the four years that it has been in operation, bringing Everton a wonderful revenue of £38.4 million in that timeframe. Unfortunately, SportPesa stopped its operations in Kenya as of 2019, following a rise in tax on betting stakes. This occurred due to a number of worries surrounding the negative effects of gambling in the African country.
Since the end of the deal with SportPesa, Everton has signed into a deal with online car retailer Cazoo instead. This deal is supposedly around the same value as the one that the football club signed in to with the Kenyan sports betting operator.
Gambling Sponsorship Deals
|Premier League Club||Sponsor||Estimated Value||Length of Deal|
|West Ham United||Betway||£10 million||From 2015 – 2025|
|Everton||SportPesa||£9.6 million||From 2017 – 2020|
|Wolverhampton||ManBetX||£8 million||From 2019 –|
|Burnley||LoveBet||£7.5 million||From 2019 –|
|Crystal Palace||ManBetX||£6.5 million||From 2017 –|
It’s quite clear that football clubs around the world get the best sort of sponsorship, and that’s only to be expected. It’s perhaps the biggest sport globally, and if a betting company is able to have its logo emblazoned on the kit of a football team, it stands to be seen by more people. It’s for this reason that companies like Unibet, 32Red, Betfair and more utilise this method of advertising, so to speak. And the football clubs benefit from the sponsorship revenue on the other end.
It may seem strange that one of the biggest betting companies in the world today – Bet365 – isn’t included on this list. That’s because while it is involved in sponsorship, the total amount dedicated to each team isn’t specifically earth-shattering. In 2018, Bet365 did draw more attention to itself when it went out and sponsored 10 of the teams playing in Spain’s La Liga. The move was pretty much described as “colonisation” of half of the league by many Spanish newspapers. Those deals didn’t extend to shirt sponsorship, though. Instead, the Bet365 logo simply appeared on the teams’ official websites, social media and more. There was no monetary value of the deals disclosed, either. Bet365 do however own a majority stake in Stoke City and the stadium is named after them.
Of course, sports betting and other gambling firms have quite the hold on the Premier League of the United Kingdom. For the 2019-20 season, around half of the teams participating in the league had deals in place with such companies. From those deals, the clubs stood to earn around £350 million altogether – a rise of more than 10% in comparison to the £315.6 million for the season prior to this.
That’s nothing in comparison to the Championship division though, where 17 out of the 24 clubs competing there had sponsorship deals with betting brands. To put that into perspective, the 2019-20 season in England’s top two leagues has seen 27 clubs sign or continue deals with sports betting companies. The top five gambling deals relating to the English Premier League for that season are shown in the table above.
Football Leads the Way
As noted, football sponsorship deals lead the way in terms of gambling companies providing such. That’s not to say that others aren’t present, but they don’t tend to come anywhere close to those surrounding the football sector. What’s more, many football clubs have more than one sponsor, so this will see one company being displayed on their shirts and another on the barriers of their football stadiums. Naturally, this is one of the biggest ways that sports in general make their money.
It is key to note that many gambling companies also sponsor multiple teams or operate in multiple sporting avenues. 32Red, for example, invests significantly in the UK horse racing scene, and it is an authorised betting partner of British Racing as well. Plus, since the Arena Racing Company All Weather Championships started back in 2014, 32Red has been a prime sponsor of that. This sees it associated with over 500 races during the championships taking place. Additionally, it sponsors the twilight fixtures that occur at Kempton Park Racecourse, as well as the Haydock Spring Cup, which was announced in 2016.
Unibet is another brand that sponsors a wide range of major sports teams and events. In fact, in terms of total sponsorship spend, Unibet pays out about £17.8 million per year. It has also partnered up with US sports teams the New Jersey Devils (NHL) and the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL). At the same time, it has operated as the official betting partner of three English football teams – Aston Villa, Preston North End and Middlesbrough. The Scottish Rangers football club is also set to benefit from the Unibet sponsorship for the 2020-21 season, while a relationship with the Warwickshire County Cricket Club sees the brand’s name spread even farther.
While some people have raised concerns over the huge connection between sports and gambling companies, the likelihood is that these partnerships won’t stop any time soon, unless the government stops gambling adverts in sport.
They’re too important for both the clubs and the betting operators to want to give up. It’s true that one or two brands, such as Ladbrokes, have confirmed that they will not continue to engage in football or other sports sponsorship. However, most of these deals are too lucrative for either side to want to stop signing in to them.