Betting Companies, Leagues Eyeing Further Canadian Sports Sponsorship

Canada’s regulated sports betting market may be in its comparative infancy, but already major betting companies and major sports leagues are looking to further collaboration.

Deals have already been struck. The National Hockey League, among the other major sports leagues, has jumped at the chance to take advantage of the legalization of single-event betting in both Canada and the U.S via corporate partnerships with industry giants such as DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, MGM Resorts, and Bally’s.

Meanwhile, other recent examples include BetRegal’s exclusive sponsorship partnership with the Canadian Football League and PGA Canada and theScore’s link-up with Golf Canada.

That visibility is only set to increase in the weeks and months to come.

The NHL’s board of governors gave the green light in August for teams to offer sponsor patches on their jerseys for the 2022-23 season, reports the Toronto Star. There is already a precedent for Canada to follow when it comes to offering that space to betting companies.

The Washington Capitals announced last month a new, multi-year partnership with Caesars Entertainment that will include the Caesars Sportsbook logo being featured on the team’s home and third jerseys.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” Brian Cooper, the chair of MKTG Canada and a long-time sports and entertainment sponsorship executive, told the Star. “Leagues in North America have held out for so long, but now they’re looking for any kind of new inventory (to sell). Those new industries of gaming and crypto(currency) are the ones they’re going after because they have a lot of money and they don’t have exclusive deals.”

Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief business officer and executive vice-president of global partnerships, says the league and teams will be prudent with moving towards the introduction of jersey patches, noting that the league is only permitting sports betting brands to advertise on the home jerseys of teams that are operating in jurisdictions where betting is legal.

In Ontario, the province’s alcohol and gaming commission (AGCO) is expected to receive applications for licences from big names in sports betting. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators are already attracting interest from gaming companies. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment already has jersey branding deals for its teams including the Leafs (advertising Ford on their practice jerseys), the Raptors (Sun Life on game jerseys and OVO on practice jerseys), and Toronto FC (BMO on the front of the kit and GE Appliances on the sleeve).

The likelihood seems to be that that will be expanded to include betting companies sooner rather than later.

“Whether it’s a naming rights deal or the naming of a bowl game, (these sponsorships) are happening throughout North American sports,” Wachtel said. “This is a significant revenue opportunity and it’s being played out there in the market that way with the deals we see taking place.”

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