Head of Data Products, UK

Last month, news emerged from the world of motorsport which caught the eye of the gambling industry.

It was announced that Formula 1 had struck a $100m deal to sell betting sponsorships. Liberty Media, the organisation that acquired the race car series in 2016 in an $8bn deal, has signed an agreement with Interregional Sports Group, for global rights to gambling sponsorship in F1. 

The deal marked a clear shift in strategy from the sport’s owners. Certainly, the announcement is a departure from the policy endorsed under the control of its former boss, Bernie Ecclestone.

Mr Ecclestone long-contested that gambling was at odds with the sports ‘glamourous’ image. However, with gambling so intertwined with leading sports around the world, it did seem somewhat anachronistic that F1 had gone so long without exploring this opportunity.

As part of the potential deal, sponsors are said to be able to advertise on electronic boards at race-tracks, while also displaying graphics on-screen – live odds are a possibility too.

But what does our data say about the propensity of Formula 1 viewers to bet? And what can we learn about the appetite of those fans to gamble alongside the races.

YouGov Profiles figures indicates that gambling brands should be excited about this development,

If we look at those that say they either ‘like’ or ‘really like’ Formula 1 in the UK, we can see that this group is much more likely than the average to have placed a bet at an online bookmaker, or via mobile in the last twelve months (21% vs. 14%).

Added to this, they’re also much more likely to have purchased a EuroMillions lottery ticket than the average member of the public (49% vs. 40%). Similarly, they’re more inclined to play Lotto (55% vs. 47%), and play bingo online of via mobile (8% vs. 4%).

In Germany, home of four-time Formula 1 Championship winner Sebastian Vettel, motorsports fans are also much more like to be keen gamblers. Indeed, our Profiles data from Germany shows that 27% of those with in interest in the sport gamble weekly, as against 19% of the general population.

Going back to those in the UK, two thirds of F1 fans say they often talk to their friends, family or colleagues about things they have seen advertised on posters or billboards (more than the average of 60%).

Of course, there are certain challenges for the sport to overcome that may impact on how much gambling companies throw at the sport. From a British perspective, while Lewis Hamilton has achieved megastar status, he is closer towards the end of his career than the start, so there is a question mark around who will take his place and retain public interest in the sport.

Similarly, the future of the British Grand Prix seems to be perennial under threat, while the dwindling coverage of the sport on free-to-air television will of course impact on viewer numbers here. This would be a real blow as YouGov Sports (SMG Insight) data indicates that the event remains as popular as ever with the public. Around the time of this year’s race, our SportsIndex data showed that the event’s Impression score rocketed to +20, which compares favourably with other sporting leagues and events around the globe.

In the past, certain sponsors have become synonymous with the sport, and specific cars. Think of Canon and Camel with Williams, as well as Vodafone and McLaren Mercedes. So for gambling brands, there’s a wealth of opportunity here.

Image Getty

This article orginally appeared in EGR Magazine

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