Sport and iGaming Conference: A Discussion of Sport and Online Gambling Partnerships

TAGs: anthony wong, iGaming Business, Keith McDonnell, kmigaming, Ladbrokes, Lee Richardson, Oneworks, Paddy Power, Rebecca Liggero, Sport and iGaming Conference, SportBusiness Group, William Hill

The third annual Sport and iGaming conference took place at the Pinsent Masons headquarters in London today, a salute to the value of online gambling sponsorships of sports teams in the UK and throughout Europe.


Throughout the day, there were several main themes that kept resurfacing:

  1. The sheer importance of the Asian sports gambling market and its relationship to the European sports market
  2. The importance of keeping up with the current technology available for bettors
  3. How operators can leverage the relationship with the sports team they are sponsoring

Panelist Keith McDonnell of KM iGaming commented that there are three main reasons why international brands, especially Asian brands, are coming in to sponsor popular UK football clubs.

First, the sports we have access to here in the UK have a global appeal, second, we’re taking about established UK clubs that come along with brand credibility and third, these international brands don’t have an established base in the UK so new accounts are opened up locally.

McDonnell pointed out that there are a comparative lack of marketing opportunities for overseas brands in unregulated market and that UK bettors likely already have accounts with all the established UK brand names such as Ladbrokes and William Hill, so this is a perfect opportunity for international brands to scoop up some coveted tangible ROI with their sponsorship.

Sport and iGaming Conference, A discussion of Sport and Online Gambling PartnershipsEveryone agrees that the technology in the stadiums must be improved and both McDonnell and Lee Richardson of OneWorks commented that its nearly impossible to even send an SMS while seated in a populated football stadium these days.  The jury is still out if the availability of the 4G network will improve things, but the key here, as pointed out by Richardson, is that operators much stay on top of the technology and look into ways of converting the HUGE pool of offline bettors to online bettors.

Anthony Wong of Paddy Power clearly agrees with innovation in technology mindset, summarized nicely in his presentation when he said, “If its going to be huge tomorrow, you want to be there yesterday!”

Paddy Power has done a fantastic job maintaining its status as market leader in many ways, certainly known for its unique branding, clever PR stunts, innovative mobile gambling products, becoming the first operator to offer a Smart TV app and the brand’s ability to take advantage of all the benefits that come along with sponsoring sports teams.

Wong covered the main assets that he believes are important to online gambling operators when sponsoring a sports team:

  • hospitality- always provide a top notch client and VIP experience
  • intellectual property- be sure to abide by the team’s crest and brand guidelines
  • players- know what image rights and access you have…and take advantage of it
  • instadia- if betting instadia is your thing (its not for Paddy Power), work it into the deal
  • offline media
  • online media- (this is Paddy Power’s sweet spot)
  • merchandise

Wong also recommended getting involved with the Club as much as possible, perhaps participating in the Club’s charity event, for example.  Or giving away Paddy Power branded underwear.  You know, whatever works for you.

There is a lot that remains to be seen in the sports betting industry, everything from second screen innovation to in-play betting innovation, mobile betting, advertising opportunities, regulation in the US and China and the list goes on.  One thing that is for certain is that the global sports betting industry will always be an interesting space to study, especiallybecauseinnovation in sports betting technology will pave the way for the future.


views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of