BetVictor have continued their support for domestic snooker in Britain in becoming the title sponsor of the English Open.
The bookmakers, one of Europe’s leading online gaming companies, has a strong relationship with World Snooker – who organise, promote and sanction all professional events globally – having previously sponsored the Welsh Open in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The 2018 English Open will begin on October 15 and runs until October 21 with 128 players entering the competition, which will be staged at the K2 Crawley Sport & Leisure Centre.
There will be no shortage of star quality to bet on either, with the sport’s biggest attraction Ronnie O’Sullivan defending the title, while world champion Mark Williams and world number one Mark Selby will attempt to steal his crown.
Judd Trump, who was runner-up in the inaugural event in 2016, will also compete for the Steve Davis Trophy, as will four-time world champion John Higgins, with a top prize of £70,000 on offer.
Matt Scarrott, Director of Sportsbook at BetVictor, expressed the company’s delight at sponsoring the event at a time when snooker is enjoying a fresh period of popularity.
“We’re really pleased to be working with World Snooker,” he said. “Over the last few years, snooker has grown in popularity at an astonishing rate as it continues to gain international relevance.
“At BetVictor, we’ve been following the sport for quite some time, having previously sponsored the Welsh Open for four years, and partnering with World Snooker once again will allow us to expand our footprint into this growing global market.”
Indeed, the sport is at its most popular since they heydays of the 1980s, helped by growing appeal in the lucrative Asian market plus modern snooker betting opportunities, including in-play odds and free live streaming of events.
Since Matchroom Sport's acquisition of World Snooker Limited in 2010, the World Snooker Main Tour has grown from having prize money of £3.5m to £14m, while the number of annual events has increased to almost 30 from eight main tour events.
According to World Snooker themselves, global viewing figures have risen above 400 million and chairman Barry Hearn is expecting more impressive figures on the English Open, which will be broadcast by Eurosport and Quest.
“This is the first time we have staged a major tournament in Crawley and I hope to see the arena packed as the fans have the chance to see 128 of the best players on the planet live in action,” he said.
“Eurosport broadcasts our sport to 137 million homes in 54 countries so the television audience is vast. It will be a sensational week of snooker."
Commenting on the partnership with BetVictor, he added: “We are thrilled to bring BetVictor back on board for the first ranking event to be staged in the UK this season. They have been great supporters of snooker over the years and they are a fantastic team to work with.”
The English Open is the first of the snooker season’s Home Nations series and is followed by the Northern Ireland Open, the Scottish Open and finally the Welsh Open.
There is a bonus incentive of £1m for any player who can win all four tournaments in the same season.