Football’s Odd Relationship with Betting

June 17, 2018

Anyone who follows football knows gambling plays a huge part in the sport: Fans love to bet on games, and sponsorship by betting companies is a huge business for clubs.

But the boon is rife with as many dangers and pitfalls as opportunities. The savvy fan, gambler, website, and advertiser must keep up on the best and worst of what’s going on in these fast-changing, tech-oriented industries.

Because we’re talking about the convergence of several of the world’s leading economies: Pro football, gambling, and advertising. And the internet has revolutionized all three, all over the world and particularly in the UK.

The Three Giants Converge

Football, called soccer abroad, is widely considered the most popular sport in the world. The total annual revenue of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is estimated at £2,835.9m, of which broadcast rights amount to £2,322.2m. The football market size (in billion euros) has almost doubled over the past decade, from 13.6 to a staggering 24.6. That market grew almost £3bn between 2015 and 2016, which is a 15% increase in a single year. The market is growing, and it’s growing faster and faster all the time.

Gambling has always been one of the modern world’s thriving industries. In the UK alone, the total Gross Gambling Yield is reported to be £13.7bn for 2017, a 1.8% increase from the previous year. The online sector represents an astonishing 34%, which was a 1.5% increase from the previous year. Commission Executive Director Tim Miller said, “These latest figures show that the gambling market is continuing to grow, particularly in the online sector.”

The meeting of advertising and the internet hardly needs to be glanced at to see the amazing results. In the UK alone, 2007’s £2.813m in online advertising increased to £11.859 in 2018. That’s a mind-bending increase of roughly 400%. Meanwhile, previous means of advertising such as billboards, network or broadcast television, or print, are dying along with their media. Who advertises in a newspaper ad when nobody reads newspapers anymore? Why pay for an expensive ad in a glossy magazine when the magazine itself is moving to an online presence? The future of advertising is online, nobody doubts it.

And when these industries converge, the sparks fly. The Drum reports that gambling now accounts for over 40% of the income from perimeter sales in the Football League. And football is reported to account for an astonishing 70% of placed bets in the UK. Sponsorships range up to an estimated £50m per season for shirt sponsorships alone. It’s clearly a boon for all three.

Plenty of Hidden Dangers in All This Success

But there are drawbacks, and many of them fall on the backs of the average fan. In 2017 the Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom reported that near to 2.3 million citizens of the empire were at risk of addiction or were already problem gamblers. It’s estimated that between October 2015 and September 2016 the total gross gambling yield of the Great Britain industry was £13.8bn.

The plague of gambling addiction isn’t limited to just fans. Players have been succumbing more and more to the gambling bug. In a recent online article, footballing legend John Hartson’s gambling addiction was reported to have included over half-a-dozen betting companies who regularly held deposits of £40,000 of the sports great’s money. In the same article, Paul Merson admits to losing roughly £7m over the course of his career, Michael Chopra roughly £2m.

Remedies and the Roads to Success

To remedy this problem, the Labour party recently stiffened advertising restrictions against gambling operators, limiting the hours during which they could buy paid commercial time. Other ways to advertise, such as shirt sponsorships, remain.

So these restrictions still give advertisers plenty of ways to reach their audience, and they’ve been doing it with amazing success. Websites and tips can be found at sites like, which showcases the highest echelon of online betting companies that are thriving in light of the new sports/gambling/advertising boon. The percentage of online gamblers in the UK between 2017 and 2018 rose between 10% and 15% in almost all demographics and were as high as 24.5 % total of UK citizens between 25 and 34 years old, a prized advertising group. All these gambling Brits meant an increase in newly licensed online casinos, which increased 162 between 2015 and 2016 alone; that’s almost a new online casino every other day!

So despite the regulations and other pitfalls, the three great industries of gambling, advertising, and Pro Football continue to grow and intersect and then grow even more, each playing off the symbiotic success of the other. It’s a self-perpetuating spiral into the dizzying heights of untold profit. As long as the savvy fan, gambler, website, and advertiser keep up on the best and worst of what’s going on in their fast-changing and increasingly intertwined industries, all of them should be able to prosper, even flourish. You can bet the farm on that.

Dante Michael Anthony Vitoria
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