Formula One has reversed its longstanding opposition to sponsorship by betting firms after new owners Liberty Media agreed terms on a deal thought to be worth as much as $100m to sell sponsorship rights to gambling firms over the next five years.
The deal with Interregional Sports Group (ISG), a marketing agency, marks the first time in close to 40 years in which betting firms will have been able to lay claim to a physical presence on the racetrack, ending a blanket ban enforced by previous owner Bernie Ecclestone.
This new relationship will see ISG pay the cash to Liberty upfront in the hope of turning a profit of its own later by selling individual sponsorship rights to gambling forms worldwide.
Sean Bratches, managing director of F1’s commercial operations, told the FT: “There’s an understanding that sponsorship injects economics into the sport that improves the sport to the fan. You have to balance that with how you serve fans. This is an opportunity that serves both of those masters.”
Sponsors will be afforded the opportunity to have their brands displayed on trackside electronic billboards and on-screen graphics during televised races.
F1 isn't the only sport to ease up on its longstanding objections to gambling partnerships with the NFL also permitting casinos to advertise for the first time.