Betway Sports, one of the web's leading independent bookmakers, has just put pen to paper on a seven-figure, three-year deal to become the official betting partner of the Grand National Festival.
The meeting, which this year runs from 6-8 April, remains one of the racing calendar's prime scalps for bookmakers – with the Grand National secure in its place as the world's most watched horse race.
According to leading industry analysts, the Betway deal shows the way forward for ambitious new players in the online gambling sphere, with a move that's predicted to increase credibility, online traffic and revenue for the ambitious bookmaker.
The announcement of the partnership with Aintree racecourse is the latest in a growing number of big event sponsorship deals supported by Betway – giving the brand a powerful marketing portfolio across the racing industry. In fact, with the sponsorship of the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on 18 March, it's bagged a double by following up at Aintree.
In a strategic move designed to increase traffic to the bookmaker's site, the firm's Aintree partnership comes at an exciting and potentially lucrative time for racing, virtue of ITV winning the rights to broadcast live racing to terrestrial audiences.
According to industry experts, the £30m deal, which has seen live terrestrial racing switch from Channel 4 to ITV in 2017, makes sponsorship of the big race meetings more appealing to businesses.
Many analysts are viewing Betway's Aintree deal as less of a gamble and more of a sound investment. This is a view shared by Richard Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Racecourse Media Group (RMG), who headed racing's negotiating team during the TV brokering phase:
"The unprecedented level of interest in the tender shows what an attractive proposition the sport is."
Thanks to ITV's broadcasting pull, this year's Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals could see record breaking viewing numbers. Better still, ITV's goal to modernise racing and make it attractive to a younger audience could make Betway's move very astute.
With over £150 million expected to be bet on the Grand National alone, any association with the meeting is likely to pay dividends for advertisers. It's certainly a view held by the brand itself, with Betway's marketing and operations director, Anthony Werkman, commenting:
"The Grand National Festival at Aintree is a hugely important race meeting; we’re delighted to be its new official betting partner. With the Betway Champion Chase in March, the Betway Lincoln on 1 April and now our sponsorship at Aintree, spring is going to be a very exciting time of year for us."
As part of the Aintree deal, Betway, which received Authorised Betting Partner status in October 2016, will sponsor four Grade One contests over an action-packed three days at the iconic Liverpool venue.
The deal includes sponsorship rights to two races on day one: The Betway Bowl Steeple Chase, a high-profile race that often features star names fresh from running in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in addition to The Betway Aintree Hurdle.
On Ladies Day, one of the most famous days in the racing calendar, they'll also sponsor The Betway Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase, topped off with The Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, on Grand National day.
Backed by Betway:
Aintree racecourse itself is delighted to receive backing from a relatively new player in the bookmaking industry, with Managing Director, John Baker, revealing his delight at bringing aboard fresh new talent:
"We’re thrilled to welcome Betway as the new official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival in a three-year deal. This year’s Grand National is already lining up to be another spectacular race, with 110 quality entries announced last week."
Sponsoring big race meetings with terrestrial TV coverage is one of the most powerful methods of marketing available to online bookmakers, with potentially thousands of new real-time customers, betting via laptops and smart phones.
It's this apparent entrepreneurial approach to marketing that makes Betway a strong bet to become one of the world's leading online bookmakers over the next five years. Expect to see the firm making more plays for major events in the near future – this latest foray into the big time is unlikely to be the last.
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