Sports and gambling have always gone hand in hand. Back in the day, when sports themselves were forming, the link was completely informal. People have been betting on the outcome of chariot races and Olympic sports even before odds, bookmakers, and their likes were invented. Over the centuries, sports have become organized, and so has gambling – the first bookmakers and betting houses appeared, soon to be followed by gambling dens and casinos. In the 1990s, all this found its way to the internet, offering players thrilling online casino games and a variety of betting options at the push of a button and the click of a mouse. Today, people all over the world can bet on sports at online bookmakers or play a few blackjack hands at the 7Sultans. Yet the link between the world of gambling is deeper than it appears – it goes way beyond skin deep.
Tribute and inspiration
If one looks at the big picture, one can see that sports and casino games are two branches of the same massive industry: entertainment. As such, they often intertwine to offer their fans the form of fun they are looking for. This goes both ways: UK Premier League team Manchester United has lent its name and logo to KamaGames, an international game developer, to turn into a social slot machine, and the 7Sultans, a gaming venue visited by thousands of players each day, offers them a number of slot machines inspired by football, and other sports. No matter if the games at the 7Sultans count as a tribute or jumping the bandwagon to attract more players, the two-way link between the two is there.
Betting groups have been known to sponsor sports teams for ages. One of the most obvious links between a betting company and a sports team is the one between Bet365 and the Stokes City FC. First of all, they are owned by the same family. Second, Bet365 is also Stokes City’s shirt sponsor – the Premier League team’s players all wear shirts decorated with the company’s logo.
Sponsorship is not a one-way relationship but rather a symbiosis – the betting group sponsoring a team will contribute to its success while reaching out to fans who might become its own customers.
The dark side
A sponsorship deal between a sports team and a gambling entity is strictly regulated not to allow any interference in the game. Sometimes, in turn, the influence is there, determining athletes and teams to lose a match. Match fixing is illegal for a reason – it kills all the sportsmanship of the game for an individual person’s or group’s financial gain. Illegal as it is, match fixing is real, often influencing the world of sports in the darkest, dirtiest way possible.