Formula One strikes huge gambling sponsorship deal

The owners of Formula One, Liberty Media, have struck a deal with Interregional Sports Group (ISG) that will allow the sport to sell sponsorship rights to operators on all F1 racetracks.

An F1 car

The deal marks a change of strategy and direction for the sport which previously wanted no links to the gambling industry. © Pexels.

The deal – worth $100m over five years – has brought an end to over 40 years of gambling advertisements having no place in F1.

Liberty Media purchased Formula One from Bernie Ecclestone – who opposed a link between gambling and the sport – for $8bn in 2016. That acquisition was completed in January 2018 and the sport has undertaken a new strategy since.

The deal will allow operators to advertise trackside on electronic billboards and via graphics of races shown on TV. Digital integration with F1’s social platforms will also be included.

Sportsradar, an integrity service for the industry, is also to come on board to assist with monitoring and spotting suspicious betting patterns in the sport.

ISG is to pay a fee upfront to Liberty, then seek to make separate sponsorship deals with gambling operators.

Formula One has said the deal was made with fans in mind, with the sponsorship improving the economics and therefore the fan experience of the sport.

One area where fan experience could well be improved by the deal is via in-play betting possibilities. Live betting has so far been unavailable on F1, but as part of the deal, in-play betting markets will be enabled.

Speaking about the deal, Sean Bratches, managing director of F1, said:

Data and sponsorship partnerships like this are common practice across almost all premium sports and this is the latest step in our mission to make Formula One the world’s leading sports entertainment experience.Sean Bratches, F1 managing director

The deal comes at a time when advertising in sport, especially football, is being fiercely debated among legislators, stakeholders and the public.

Currently, Formula One features a 21 race season across numerous countries, many of which restrict or prohibit gambling advertising. How the sport will get around this regulation remains to be seen.

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