Fri, Oct 11, 1:29am by Kevin Pitstock
Unibet is paying AUD $1 million per year to become a sponsor for the Parramatta Eels. The 2-year deal stipulates the Unibet logo will be found on the back of Eels jerseys next year.
This makes the Unibet deal the most lucrative one in the history of the Parametta Eels, who have finished with the wooden spoon in NRL the past two seasons. Despite the cash influx for the club, numerous commentators have criticised.
The criticism comes from the fact that Unibet is an online bookmaker. Online critics such as the writers at The Roar call for the abolition of all gambling-related advertisements for National Rugby League franchises. These critics echo the advocacy groups and politicians who fear for the well-being of underage viewers of NRL broadcasts.
The critics say the ads are seen by Australian youth, who assume gambling is an integral part of being a sports fan. These people don’t seem to mind the omnipresence of gambling ads in stores, where state-licensed lottery gaming is seen by teenagers every day of the way. Studies show children prefer lotto gaming and scratchies to all other forms of gambling.
The problem with banning gambling-related sponsorship deals is it limits the revenue potential for clubs, especially those which are having struggles on the pitch. Sponsors are the most bankable ways for a club to build revenue streams. Without the money, youth programs and other fan-friendly services would have to be scrapped. Stadiums and facilities could not be maintained at their current standards. Clubs at the low end of the NRL standings might be vulnerable to severe financial hardships.
People often point to the fact NRL clubs survived the removal of cigarette company sponsorships in the 1990’s. One of the reasons NRL teams continued to find sponsorship money was the growth of the gambling industry. Online gambling sites needed to build name recognition and sports advertisements were a natural way to get noticed, especially for the bookmaker sites. The potential loss of advertising dollars from such betting companies would fuel the need for new sponsors, but most companies aren’t a good fit for the NRL.
If you set aside the social factor, the bargain is a good one for both the Parramatta Eels and its gambling sponsor. The Unibet gambling community has 7.8 million customers in over 100 different nations worldwide. Having exposure to the Australian gambling market is important, because Aussies are among the most bet-crazy people on the planet.
The Unibet logo will be seen during every Eels broadcast in 2014 and 2015. More than that, official jerseys will sport the logo, which provides advertising long after the broadcasts, perhaps long after the initial two-year contract is ended.
The main sponsor for the Parramatta Eels in 2014 will be the real estate company, Dyldam. Dyldam has been an Eels sponsor since 1998, but it is set to become the main sponsor in the years ahead. The Dyldam logo will appear on the sleeve and the front of the jersey.
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