As sports betting sponsorships come under increasing public and political scrutiny, Rory Anderson, former CEO and current Consultant at 12BET, outlined his belief that the gaming industry ‘golden goose’ must not be completely removed from sports, but that some limitation is also needed.
Speaking to SBC’s Global Relationship Director Kelly Kehn in the latest edition of the SBC Leaders Podcast, Anderson discussed his career in the betting and gaming industry, outlining the development of strong sponsorship relationships.
Detailing the formulation of effective sponsorship agreements, Anderson stated: “You know a sponsorship deal is going well when you become a mad supporter of that club, because it’s infectious. It’s generally a two-way street – you get a good relationship going with a rights-holder or a sports team, you put the effort in and truly engage, take the time to go and meet them.”
Moving on to the topic of betting and gaming companies sponsoring professional sports teams and leagues, particularly front-of-shirt sponsorship arrangements among elite level football clubs, Anderson expressed a mixed opinion.
Of the 20 teams currently competing in the Premier League, eight maintain sponsorship arrangements with betting and gaming operators, generating millions of pounds per season.
These partnerships, however, could be thrown into jeopardy by the government’s ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act, of which a ban on shirt sponsorships has been described as one of the ‘most likely’ and ‘common sense’ outcomes by legislators and campaigners.
Anderson continued: “In terms of the whole gambling review in general, you have the question ‘what are we trying to achieve?’ Now, if reducing gambling related harm is the goal – which it should be – I don’t think the so-called ‘Asian betting operators’ who tend to sponsor Premier League clubs are the issue.
“I say this because, in general, the Asian betting companies don’t use predatory or exploitative techniques. Most don’t offer bonusing, most don’t offer crossover to casino products. In terms of casino gaming related harm to UK players, it’s not really there.”
However, he did argue that there is still too much gambling-related advertising in professional football, saying: “The problem exists when you watch a game and see four or five different competitors on the perimeter of a match on all LED systems, and it is too much and it’s not good for anyone.
“In my view, a solution would be to limit it to one betting partner per club, based on product category and exclusivity, and limit it to ten minutes advertising per partner per game.”
This problem is not just limited to the top-flight, as many clubs in the EFL Championship – who Anderson acknowledged ‘really need the money at the minute’ – also rely heavily on sports betting sponsors as a vital source of revenue.
Additionally, Anderson pointed out that gambling sponsorships have been proliferating outside of football, including in ‘niche sports’ such as taekwondo, table tennis and badminton, as well as in more popular sports such as darts and snooker.
The Consultant also underscored the major financial contributions that these sponsorships make to the ‘huge British cultural pastimes’ that many sports represent.
He stressed that a line needs to be drawn between ensuring a responsible gaming policy and completely cutting out the ‘goose laying the golden sponsorship eggs’ that is the betting and gaming industry.