Striking a Partnership: The Impact of Casinos Sponsoring Cricket in Australia

Ask a hundred Australians what gets their pulses racing and you will find that cricket and gambling are two topics that come up time and again. Australia has dominated world cricket since the days of Allan Border, the Waugh brothers, and Shane Warne in the 1980s and 90s, including six victorious World Cup campaigns since 1987. At the same time, the Australian passion for gambling is well-known. Australians wager more money per capita per year than any other nationality, and sports betting is second only to playing the pokies in terms of money spent.

It’s little surprise, then, that combining the two captures the imaginations of millions of Australians. It can also bring significant rewards in both the gaming and sporting industries. 

Gambling companies and sports – an uneasy relationship

On the face of it, gambling companies and sports are a match made in heaven. Teams and tournaments rely on cash-rich sponsors, while for fans, placing a bet is all part of the experience. However, it can be a regulatory minefield. Cricket Australia has had a long relationship with one of the biggest sports betting brands but recently came under fire for continuing that relationship while refusing to be associated with an energy company on ethical grounds. 

Nonetheless, when the International Cricket Council (ICC) met in April of last year, it agreed to permit betting sponsorship on clothing in bilateral internationals. From a financial perspective, this can only be good news for Australian cricket. 

Welcome revenue for a sport that needs it

One needs only to look at the West Indies to see the impact that a lack of funding can have. The team that ruled the world in the 1970s and 80s is a shadow of its former self and didn’t even qualify for last year’s Men’s World Cup. We will not delve deeply into all the reasons here, but the superior funding enjoyed by basketball was certainly a contributory factor. 

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Casino sponsorships help generate the revenue essential for the ongoing development of the sport. It’s not just about the financial rewards for the best players, but also improving infrastructure, providing better training facilities at the grassroots level, and essential funding to develop women’s cricket. 

This type of sponsorship also attracts new audiences and helps to maintain or even increase cricket’s popularity in a country where soccer rugby and basketball are competing for the attention of Australian sports fans. 

Australian casinos adopting multiple channels for user engagement 

Sponsoring cricket grounds and having logos on shirts is well and good, but it represents just one aspect of fan engagement. We mentioned earlier that playing poker is even more popular in Australia than sports betting. The most popular online casino games in Australia reflect the topics that are trending among Australian gamblers, from popular TV series to the nation’s top sports.

Cricket Star is probably the best example, a title that was first released in 2015 to commemorate that year’s World Cup (which Australia won emphatically). Other titles include God of Cricket and the IPL-inspired Premier League cricket. 

Expect to see the gambling companies explore more new ways of engaging with Australian sports fans over the months and years to come. Traditional direct sponsorship will always be the ideal relationship, but it has its risks. Australian regulators discuss the topic regularly, and gambling businesses will be only too aware of recent decisions in other sports in other regions to sever ties. Adopting multiple channels helps to spread the risk and means all parties can continue to reap the benefits. 

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