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Gambling sponsorship stages a ‘mini comeback’ on the backs of rugby and cricket

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By John Glenday, Reporter

August 3, 2022 | 3 min read

Gambling-related shirt sponsorship deals have staged a small revival on the back of several deals signed by English rugby and cricket teams, according to new research published by Caytoo.

England Rugby League

Betfred is the principal partner of the England men’s, women’s and wheelchair Rugby League teams / Rugby Football League

The sponsorship intelligence agency analyzed 226 front-of-shirt (FoS) sponsors across football, rugby and cricket to arrive at its findings, declaring a “mini comeback” for the sector after dramatic falls last year.

The reversal in fortunes saw gambling emerge with the third-largest jump in FoS sponsorships over the year, accounting for 9.2% of all sponsors. This was sufficient to propel the sector into the second spot behind automotive (10.5%), but ahead of retail (8.8%).

Alex Burmaster, head of research and analysis at Caytoo, said: “It’s a notable return to favor for gambling after its share of sponsorships nearly halved from 2019 to 2021. However, this year deals in rugby and cricket have resulted in a mini comeback, which will surprise many as publicity on gambling sponsorship centers on football. So, the big questions are: will the Premier League voluntary ban happen and, if so, will other divisions or sports such as rugby and cricket follow suit?”

The title of the fastest-growing sector was claimed by manufacturing and engineering, which saw FoS sponsorships jump from 4.9 to 7.5% – leapfrogging IT, construction and travel and tourism in the process.

What goes up must come down, and at the opposite end, financial services has sufferered the biggest fall from grace with its percentage of sponsorships dropping from 8.4 to 6.1%, pulling the category into the fifth spot overall. Alcohol is another area in retreat, with its share of shirt sponsorship deals slipping from 3.1 to 1.3%.

Gambling remains the most prevalent FoS sponsor in football, with a market share of 15.4%. In cricket automotive takes the crown with 17.7%, while in rugby both manufacturing and engineering and retail hold sway on 13.3% apiece.

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