The importance of sports sponsorship to online gambling companies is clear to see. Just turn on the TV and regardless of which sporting event you find first, the chances are that you’ll see an iGaming logo emblazoned on a shirt, board, stadium or just about anywhere.
In a 2006 study on the patterns of sport sponsorship by gambling, alcohol and food companies gambling was found to be the most common specific sponsorship catefory with 18.8% of all sponsorship recorded.
Part of the reason for the popularity of sponsorship is that it is much more cost-effective than traditional advertising and is also seen as a less intrusive way of reaching the customer – which in turn presents the brand in a more favourable light.
So when the announcement of the sponsorship deal was made in July 2009 it certainly didn’t dominate many headlines. After all, there are plenty of these types of deals being signed every year and this particular one wasn’t even in the same league as those involving the likes of bwin, Betfair and Betclic.
However, on close inspection, this may well prove to be one of the most successful sponsorship deals for an iGaming company that we’ve seen to date.
In the four years since 32Red have been a partner at Swansea, the latter may appear to almost have outgrown the former. That may be slightly unfair to the Gibraltar-based casino as their revenue in this time has grown from £12.75 million in 2009 – the year the deal was announced – to over £32 million in 2012.
But at the time of the announcement there was a feeling that Swansea City had been lucky to attract a sponsor such as 32Red. In the press release announcing the deal, the club’s vice-chairman Leigh Dineen reflected on the fact that 32Red had previously been the shirt sponsors of established Premier League club Aston Villa.
He said: “We are now a Championship club with a Premiership sponsor – and that’s something we are very proud of.”
But even 32Red’s 250% growth in revenue from 2009 to 2012 can’t match Swansea’s impressive rise to prominence. From playing second fiddle in Wales to Cardiff City the club has grown into one of the most exciting teams in the Premier League.
Given that few industries can grow and operate at the same level as the top leagues of professional football it’s hardly surprising that the powers that be at Swansea City may feel that they’ve almost outgrown their previous partners. After all, the level of investment that they’ll now be looking for will be considerably greater than that which 32Red had been ploughing in.
Not only are the club looking for new shirt sponsors but they also have ambitious plans which includes enlisting help that will enable them to develop their stadium.
A Profitable Payoff
But before anyone thinks that 32Red will be despondent following the premature end to the deal, think again.
The company’s final year results for 2012 reveal that they received an ‘early termination compensation payout of £950,000’ and weren’t ‘required to pay any further sums to Swansea in respect of the 2012/3 season’ – so they effectively received the rest of this season’s sponsorship benefits without having to pay for them.
Now with six games left that may not sound like too much. However, it includes fixtures against the two top sides in the league, one of which – Manchester United – attracts more than 50% of the Premier League’s global TV audience according to research conducted by SPORT+MARKT in 2011.
What fits nicely as a climax to 32Red’s time with Swansea was their day out at Wembley in the Capital One Cup final. The casino’s logo was on full display in a fixture that usually attracts around 10 million viewers – although this year’s final may have been slightly lower due to the teams involved being less high profile than usual.
In a way, Swansea’s rise and the way that they continue to perform provides a neat comparison with that of 32Red. While both operations are smaller in terms of staff and finances than many of their competitors, they continue to perform at a very high level, and most importantly, few people have a bad word to say about them.