Formula One relaxes betting stance with US$100m ISG deal

Partnership will bring live in-play betting and gambling partners to global motorsport series.

Formula One relaxes betting stance with US$100m ISG deal

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Formula One has reversed its stance on betting deals with owners Liberty Media signing a contract with Interregional Sports Group (ISG), a London-based marketing agency, for the motorsport series’ global rights to gambling sponsorships.

According to the Financial Times, the deal dictates that ISG pay Formula One US$100 million over five years, with the cash to be paid up front. In return, the company will be granted the right to strike a series of separate deals with betting companies in different markets around the world.

The move will see gambling firms have a physical presence at Formula One racetracks for the first time in nearly 40 years, ending a blanket ban implemented by former owner Bernie Ecclestone, who refused to accept backing from betting companies on the basis that they would tarnish the sport’s image.

Now, gambling operators will be given the opportunity to have their brands promoted on trackside electronic billboards, on-screen graphics during TV broadcasts and through integration across the series’ digital and social platforms.

In addition, the first-of-its-kind partnership for Formula One will see ISG and sports data firm Sportradar work with data taken during race weekends to develop new in-play betting markets during Grands Prix. The series will also benefit from Sportradar’s integrity services to protect it against betting-related match-fixing and corruption. 

“Formula One is delighted to partner with ISG, which has demonstrated its impressive global capabilities through working with the likes of Serie A and La Liga,” said Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations. “We are also hugely excited to work with ISG and Sportradar on making the most of the data which is generated at every Grand Prix.

“Data and sponsorship partnerships like this are common practice across almost all premium sports and this is the latest step in our mission to make Formula One the world’s leading sports entertainment experience. This deal allows us to develop new and exciting ways for Formula One fans around the globe to engage with the world’s greatest racing spectacle, while ensuring integrity with best practice oversight from Sportradar.”

The decision to relax Formula One’s stance on betting sponsorships comes at a time when there is growing concern over gambling partnerships in sport and their influence on fans’ betting habits.

However, a number of sports have recently opened up to gambling sponsorships in the wake of May’s US Supreme Court ruling to relax betting laws in the country. Since then, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has penned a US$25 million deal with MGM Resorts International, while the National Football League (NFL) has agreed to permit franchises to sign sponsorships with casinos.  

Formula One added in an official release that full details of its partnership with ISG and Sportradar will be formally announced at the Betting on Sports 2018 conference in London on Wednesday.