Chase Carey: ‘Betting Deal Will Make F1 More Interesting’
Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey has defended his decision to immerse the sport in online betting, insisting his business plan will enhance fans’ enjoyment of the spectacle.
In September, Liberty Media – who purchased Formula One Group for $8 billion in 2016 – announced a sponsorship and data rights deal with marketing firm Interregional Sports Group (ISG) which is set to change the in-play betting experience in F1.
That will see regionalised, branded onscreen data graphics and other forms of integration across F1’s digital and social platforms, as well as physical and virtual trackside advertisements.
Bettors will be able to make use of data generated from races for gambling purposes, while the information should allow bookmakers the opportunity to be more creative with betting markets, particularly in-play during races.
However, the move to welcome gambling advertising into the sport has been criticised in some quarters, with some fans keen to keep F1 free from betting partnerships, as had been the case under Bernie Ecclestone’s stewardship.
‘A Form of Fun Betting’
Carey, who succeeded Ecclestone in January 2017 following Liberty Media’s acquisition of Formula One Group, has leapt to the defence of the agreement amid growing criticism, comparing the deal to the ‘fun’ form of betting that has worked so well for Fantasy Football in NFL.
“I think with betting obviously we have responsibilities that go with it,” he said, addressing the critics. “We want to make sure it’s done in a healthy way, we want to make sure it’s done with proper integrity tools around it.
“But I think it’s clear that fans enjoy it, I think it makes it more interesting, it makes it more exciting. As an American, I look at in some ways like Fantasy Football, which is a great enhancement to the NFL. Here’s a form of fun betting.”
“I think that type of engagement in a sport widens its appeal to others, it makes the experience better, and obviously it’s a business opportunity for us.
“It’s both a sponsorship element and providing a more expanded and interesting set of opportunities to engage with the sport and bet on things that may not be available.
“People can obviously bet on the sport today, so betting on the sport is not new, but I think we can provide new and interesting ways.”
Integrity of Utmost Importance
As part of the deal, ISG and the betting brands they sub-license to will have support from Sportradar – who are experts in the area of sports integrity, betting-related fraud and corruption.
“I think we have to make sure we have integrity and disciplines around to make sure that with anything one bets on there is a proper oversight, and it’s properly policed and maintained,” added Carey, mindful of foul play.
Carey’s predecessor Ecclestone was famously opposed to betting sponsorship and resisted venturing into a gambling deal during his four decades at the helm of F1.
During his reign, Ecclestone preferred to extract sponsorship revenue from tobacco companies, but changing attitudes to smoking led to the likes of Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Lucky Strike and other notable tobacco brands being phased out of the sport after the 1990s, a glorious decade for F1.
F1 now relies upon the likes of Emirates and Rolex as their key commercial partners, but Carey’s deal with ISG could change the face of the sport, although some of the nations which host races do hold strict laws on the promotion of gambling.
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