Formula 1 Embraces Sports Betting, Shuns Decades of Stigma
In a partnership that will integrate motorsports with legal live betting for the first time, Formula 1 this week announced a $100-million, multi-year data rights collection deal with sports marketing agency Interregional Sports Group and security firm Sportradar.
According to an F1 release, ISG “will have the right to sub-license Betting Partnership Rights to select betting brands around the world,” marking a stark departure from the policies the world’s most popular form of motorsports brandished during for decades under the command of Bernie Ecclestone.
Sportradar Set to Police Market
Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System, which is currently utilized by multiple leagues including FIFA, the NBA and the NHL, is charged with helping to insure the integrity and perception problems Ecclestone feared are avoided.
“Through this collaboration with Formula 1, we’re delighted that fans will receive an exciting and safe betting experience and we look forward to further developing the F1 fan experience,” David Lampitt, Managing Director Group Operations for Sportradar said.
Ecclestone believed that an association with gambling through advertising was incongruent with a “suitable” image for the sport, but Liberty Media, which purchased the series in 2016 for $4.6 billion, saw it as an untapped revenue stream.
Gambling Advertising Also Part of Deal
In addition to wagering access, the ISG deal will facilitate gambling-associated advertising and signage at tracks for the first time.
"One element of [the agreement] is that we’ll be bringing big betting brands around the world into the races themselves, so the races are broadcast all over the world and then in the different regions around the world.
You’ll see major betting brands appearing track-side for the first time ever in Formula 1”, ISG Group CEO Chris Buckley told CalvinAyre.com.
“The second element is Formula 1 is probably the greatest sport when it comes to data. The technology behind Formula 1 is phenomenal.
Huge amounts of data are created every second of every race, so we’ll be working with Sportradar, another partner of ours, to help develop products for the betting market to create betting in-running opportunities around Formula 1."
Changes are Long Time Coming
Betting on F1 races or specials has been previously prevalent through much of the world outside of the United States, as with other available with other sports, but the addition of “in-play” wagering using the myriad of data collected during races will undoubtedly be highly scrutinized by other racing series.
The highest cost of the sport and the struggle for sponsorships will assure that.
DraftKings in 2015 became NASCAR’s official daily fantasy sports game, giving the company, which launched an online sports betting service in August in New Jersey, exclusive access to NASCAR Digital Media’s real-time statistical data feed. NASCAR’s Race Team Alliance of owners later entered into a promotional agreement with DraftKings.
Two races in its highest-tier series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series are held each season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with the South Point Casino 400 there last weekend. Two yearly races are also held at Dover International Speedway, which abuts a casino that now offers legalized sports betting. A casino overlooks Kansas Speedway.
Still, the series has been reticent to describe its stance on gambling as it pertains to competition.
“We’re aware of the Supreme Court’s decision on PASPA and will continue to monitor what the ruling will mean for individual states and our sport,” NASCAR said in a statement supplied to Gambling.com.
Drivers such as Las Vegas native and former series champion Kyle Busch and seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson have at various times voiced support from wagering on NASCAR.
While a new revenue stream would be welcomed in a series struggling to find footing amid a steady decline in attendance and television viewership, in which the Furniture Row Racing team of defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. will close after this season because of sponsor woes, wagering on racing has not proved immensely impactful in Nevada, where wagering on races was legal before the May Supreme Court decision undoing the national ban on sports betting.
Motorsports was folded in an “others” category that generated $37.5 million in revenue for the state last season, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, as compared to $99.5 for the top revenue-generator, basketball.
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