Reviewing the Impact of the 13% Gambling/Betting Sponsorship Share in European Football in 2023/2024

Gambling Firms Sponsorships on European Football
Source: @BTA / Gambling Firms Sponsorships on European Football

Even if you don’t watch football, there is no arguing that the sport attracts billions. Some of the best soccer clubs have fans from all parts of the globe, so it’s no surprise advertisers are always interested in promoting their brands. That is one of the reasons football club sponsorships are so expensive.

Regarding football club sponsors, information from shows that around 13% of them in Europe are from companies in the betting and gambling industry. Many of you probably think the percentage is pretty low, which is true, but it’s the 2nd-largest. “Gambling and betting brands have completely taken over the football championships and teams in some parts of the world. You can see them everywhere, so it’s no surprise that the percentage is high”, said Kristiyan from NB.

Before diving deep into the different dimensions of gambling sponsorship in soccer, we’d also like to share a few words about the types of sponsorship deals. What’s interesting is that the Retail Business has a 14% share, whereas the Professional Services have a 12% share. Financial services come in 4th place with 10%, followed by Food & Beverage with 9% and Airline & Automotive with 8%.

European Football Club Sponsorships Infographic

Construction and Real Estate have 6%, whereas Industrial Goods have a 7% sponsorship deal. Telecommunications and Tourism come in at 6%, followed by Energy at 5%. Lastly, we have Charity and Pharmaceuticals with 1%.

While it’s true that all types of sponsors are important in soccer, most people will agree that the betting & gambling business stands out. We have a lot to say about it, so let’s dive in.

The different types of gambling and betting sponsorships in European football

When people hear the words “sponsor” and “soccer”, they assume that this is the brand on a given team’s shirt. There is no arguing that this is probably the “ultimate form of sponsoring” in this sport, but most gambling and betting brands aren’t there.

If you visit the websites of some of Europe’s biggest iGaming operators, you can see that they always sponsor one or more football clubs, but you won’t find always them on the players’ shirts. There are a couple of reasons, such as the gambling laws (more about that in a bit), but we also need to address the financial factors.

Becoming the shirt sponsor of a top-tier European soccer club is not cheap. Some companies have to pay insane amounts of money (Source – Manchester City earned £67.5M in 2022/23) to be there, which is not something that all gambling brands can afford. Therefore, most of them are happy with being on the sponsors list, even if their names do not appear on the shirts.

In rare instances, you may find different betting and gambling firms that sponsor the stadium and the entire soccer league. The latter probably sounds insane to some of you (especially if you reside in a country with strict gambling laws), but this is the case in some places, such as Bulgaria. The local leading football championship is called the First Professional Football League, but it’s also known as the Efbet League due to the sponsorship deal.

The problems with gambling and betting soccer sponsorships in some countries

Having more sponsors is usually a good thing because it means that more funds will be poured into it. This is also true for soccer, but when it comes down to the betting and gambling firms, there is a fine line that both the teams and businesses should not cross.

Going back to the example from above, the fact that Bulgaria’s football league is known as the “efbet League” is weird, to say the least. Gambling is not banned in the country (on the contrary, you can find it everywhere), but some brands have invested so much money into this sport that the clubs and the entire league have become dependent on them.

Efbet League - CSKA 1948 & Ludogorets
Source: @BTA / efbet - sponsor of the Bulgarian Football League and many teams

To put it another way, gambling companies are the main “investors” in a lot of the smaller football leagues and clubs worldwide. As such, they are often given a green light to advertise their services a lot more aggressively than usual. Consequently, this leads to many new clients, many of whom are underaged.

Underaged betting is a huge problem everywhere, but it is apparent in places where betting and gambling brands have taken over soccer. The latter is incredibly popular, and it’s followed by people from all age groups.

Another issue related to markets where gambling sites are the main investors in soccer is match-fixing. This is something that not a lot of people want to talk about, but it is an issue even in some of the biggest leagues worldwide. Everyone remembers the scandal surrounding Juventus and other big clubs in Serie A in Italy.

The UK’s example

Everyone knows that the UK is one of the countries that set the gambling trends in Europe, as well as all over the world. Some of the top-tier betting brands come from this part of the world, and it’s no surprise they had a massive role in the local football leagues. After all, the English Premier League is the most famous soccer championship worldwide, so any sponsorship deals here usually have excellent results.

Unfortunately, for some top-tier betting brands, the country’s gambling laws have started to change. People started noticing that more and more users get involved in gambling, and the number of players with problems increased with it. Consequently, the Premier League clubs decided to withdraw gambling sponsorships from the front of their shirts starting from season 2026/27.

betway West Ham shirt sponsor
Source: @BTA / betway - main sponsor of West Ham

Just to get an idea of the scale of this deal, in 2024, there are 8 EPL clubs that have gambling sites as sponsors on their shirts. On average, these brands pay more than £60M per year, so you can imagine that this decision was not easy.

Speaking of the devil, the change should take place at the end of the 2025/26 season, so there are still a couple of years left when we can see the names of some iGaming operators. Furthermore, the gambling brands’ logos will still be visible on shirt sleeves.

The benefits of gambling and betting sponsorship in European football

After talking about some of the bad aspects of these deals, it’s also time to address some of the positives.

Besides the fact that clubs make a lot of money they need to pay their players and staff, bettors are usually in a good position. If we take a look at some of the big gambling brands that sponsor football clubs, we can see that they often have more markets for them. The same is true for the odds, which can be much higher than usual.

What’s also interesting is that many betting and gambling brands have unique bonuses. The promotions can be in many forms, but they are usually available as a free bet. We have also seen places that let you punt on the potential winner of the given league that the site sponsors.

Another advantage of these types of sponsorship deals is related to something that a lot of people forget about – taxes. The gambling and betting taxes are huge in all countries, and since these brands increase their players, they earn more money. Consequently, they also pay more taxes, which should benefit the local economy.

What is the alternative to the gambling sponsorships?

Assuming more countries decide to follow the UK’s example and remove the gambling and betting brands from the shirts of leading soccer clubs, the latter will not get as much finances as before. As a result, many big clubs have started looking for alternatives, and it seems like they have found something.

Nowadays, cryptocurrency is extremely popular among all age groups, especially in early 2024. Since Bitcoin’s prices continue to go up, more and more people are getting involved and investing in it. This increases the financial resources of most crypto exchanges, so they are slowly making their way into soccer.

Manchester United Tezos
Source: @BTA / Man United training kits with the Tezos logo

Replacing gambling and betting sponsorship deals with cryptocurrency companies seems the way to go. In fact, you can find a lot of top-tier soccer clubs that are sponsored by big crypto platforms even today. Manchester United, for example, has a deal with Tezos, whereas Barcelona is working with Chiliz.

Aside from different crypto exchanges, we also expect to see big corporations where you can purchase, hold, and exchange other financial assets. FTX was a good example, and the company actually sponsored different sports and events worldwide until it became clear that it was a massive scam.

Final thoughts

Football is a sport that brings together people from all over the world, and it’s popular in almost every country. While it’s true that gambling is also becoming more popular, it is not legal in a lot of countries where soccer is at a high level. Therefore, none of the local clubs have sponsorship deals with such operators, yet they operate just fine.

It will be intriguing to see what’s going to happen in the future. Considering all of the betting and gambling regulations, we may see a change in gambling sponsorships.

Veselin Ignatov
Veselin IgnatovVeselin's primary job is to create unique content, such as reviews and analyses of different bookmakers and other topics from the iGaming industry.

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