A new review of UK gambling laws has been launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with initial calls for evidence having now closed. But with the UK already imposing some of the strictest advertising and promotional rules in Europe, what could this mean for the future of sponsorship in sports?
The one key element that is unclear around the review, is how it will look at the popularity of eSports, a space that has boomed and projected to earn $6.6bn this year alone.
With the surge in popularity, those in the gambling industry are understandably cautious over what the future will hold and are looking at other options. One such company is NetBet, who were founded in 2001 and hold a European license from Malta. They produce a range of services such as sports betting, casino games, vegas, lottery, poker and live online casino.
While NetBet has a strong UK presence, the company exists in more than 15 different locations, with a high presence in Brazil where they sponsor RedBull Bragantino, a team that is changing the concept of management in Brazilian football. However, NetBet aren’t the only sponsors of this team, with as the name suggests RedBull and another global brand, Nike, also involved.
But it’s not just mainstream sports that can grab the attention of sponsors. Again in Brazil, NetBet is pushing innovation by being the first online casino to sponsor a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team, BJJstars, which has one of the former UFC directors in Brazil as director. This qualified audience is something seen as in line with the NetBet’s brand positioning.
According to the company, they established themselves as an early adopter of the online gaming industry and so for them, sports sponsorship (both traditional and eSports) is a natural progression.
Head of Sportsbook in NetBet Sport UK, Peter Camden explains more:
How important do you think sports and eSports are for fans?
In terms of sports betting, both are incredibly important. The addition of more events being shown on TV and online has seen a huge shift in live and in-play betting for the whole iGaming industry. Additionally, the huge prize pools on offer across eSports have helped push them into the mainstream which has caught the attention of the iGaming sector, where key titles including Dota, Fortnite & LOL have provided great content for bookmakers.
At NetBet, we’ve seen a considerate increase in betting for both traditional sports and eSports over the past months and have developed our platform to include advanced in-play stat features across all live events. This has helped fans digest more information on what they are watching and betting on, to give a more interactive betting experience with the sports and eSports they enjoy.
What do you think the future looks like for sports and eSports?
The future is very bright for both. With more sports being shown on TV, fans have more opportunities to watch and follow their teams. This is very positive for gambling operators as it means customers can be more engaged in in-play markets as they can watch more matches which traditionally would have been restricted only to those who were in the stadiums.
For eSports, we expect to see more innovative ways to engage with fans and individual game titles to be a focus for promotion. eSports is a general term that consolidates many individual games into one. Each title has its unique community and following much like the differences you would see from basketball and football fans. It’s exciting to see the innovations being created already for fans as although eSports has traditionally been labelled a niche market within betting, this is rapidly becoming the next big offering.
In the past twelve months alone, NetBet has experienced the biggest growth in eSports. We expect this to continue, with more tournaments available and an increase in streaming options giving fans and players a completely new experience. Add developing titles like NBA2K into the mix and other classic sports that are being played online, then we’ll see that growth continues well into 2021.
Why do you think sports bring people or communities together?
Sport brings a passion like nothing else can. Whether you play, watch or chat with your friends, there is always an opinion to be had. At Netbet our goal is to bring sport to life and give our players the opportunity to act on their opinions.