Darts and gambling companies are joining forces for mutual benefit. Through gambling companies, darts may be able to increase its spectatorship and engage more people in the sport.
The most obvious example of these partnerships being developed can be seen in the World Cup of Darts, where BetVictor has renewed its sponsorship role of the event with PDC. Although they will feature as the main event sponsor, they aren't the only bookmaker to be sponsoring the tournament with five other bookmakers making an appearance to some degree at the 2020 competition.
Darts tends to be most prevalent in Anglo-speaking countries like the USA, Australia and the UK. Each host major darts competitions live on TV. In Europe, both soft-tip and steel tip darts are popular, and the growth of the sport in Germany is phenomenal. The Netherlands, however, is arguable the country where darts is as popular as the UK, with thanks to some Dutch Darts Champions.
But the sport has never been able to keep up with the viewership that other sports have, such as football, rugby and golf, all of which are watched on a large scale globally.
Sponsorship is vital for darts events because it brings in capital to help fund the occasions. But gambling sponsorship might not just be vital for the events, but the sport as a whole. By using gambling and casino bookmakers, darts could generate more interest and a bigger fanbase, ultimately making the game more profitable and taking it forward.
On the other hand, casino brands are seeking sponsorship in sports because they know sports have huge followings and are also watched by people who tend to like gambling. Thus, they can increase their own market share at the same time as supporting sports.
The online gambling market is so fiercely competitive that the best gambling companies have to use extensive marketing campaigns. Those that offer sports betting will promote upcoming sporting events such as darts competitions to generate interest and convince punters to bet. If a gambling company is actively partnered with darts competitions, they are going to receive even more exposure than usual, which could drive interest and increase viewership.
This is even more possible if sponsoring band start to offer and promote bonuses and free bets on darts events. Even people who are not as likely to watch darts may tune in if they have a free chance to win money – and this introduction to darts could convert them into darts fans over time.
Yes, gambling sponsorship in sport has been used as a vehicle to increase interest in events and matches. You just have to look at football in the top tiers of England to see how many professional football clubs now have a gambling company as a shirt sponsor. In fact, more than 50% of clubs in the Premier League and an even higher percentage in The Championship now have shirt betting sponsors.
The relationship between sports, and (sports) betting is already proven to be a valuable model in terms of revenue and engagement.
The partnership between bookmakers and darts is being made more robust by creating darts casino games. You can now play online video slot games that are made for darts fans. These slots may attract darts fans to casinos they have never tried before so they can play games that align with their hobbies and interests.
Although there are lots of benefits for the sport as a whole and the gambling companies when engaging in these partnerships, not everyone agrees with them. In football, there has been a lot of push back from groups that want to see betting companies banned from sponsoring sport because younger and vulnerable viewers also watch the games and could be influenced.
One newspaper recently found that 33% of football fans won't buy a football top when it has a gambling brand on it.
However, this push back might not be as severe in darts where the sport tends to attract fewer younger viewers and more fans who are of the legal age to gamble.