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The impact of gambling sponsorships on the CFL

In 2021, the CFL announced that they had entered into an official partnership with BetRegal, a leading sports betting brand. In March 2022, the Ottawa Redblacks announced a partnership with sportsbook PointsBet Canada, becoming the first team in the league to do so. The Edmonton Elks soon followed suit and partnered with Sports Interaction.

Betting on sports is growing in popularity, especially in North America. Sports betting is now a major sector within the gambling industry as a whole. The internet has helped make it even more accessible. Even online casinos that offer all types of online games have seen the value in offering their customers an on-site sportsbook to bet with. Bettors are now spoiled for choice when looking for a sportsbook.

Every sponsorship deal and partnership that a team or league makes can have an impact on the game. Problematic companies can cause backlash from fans, while supportive partnerships can boost the entire league. Let’s take a look at how gambling sponsorships have impacted the CFL.

Financial stability

We all want to win big when we bet but every gambler knows that that rarely happens. The real winners are always going to be the bookmakers, who take a cut even when you win. Sports betting is a lucrative industry and there are billions of dollars being made across the major betting sites.

What this means for the CFL is greater financial stability. Having partnerships with betting brands that can afford to spend heavily on their leagues and teams makes life easier for the teams. It is very expensive to run a sports team and costs keep going up. Teams that don’t have good brand deals are forced to raise prices on tickets and merchandise, which is hard for fans. The CFL has been very lucky to secure such great sponsorships – having financial stability makes everything simpler.

There hasn’t been enough investment yet but once gambling sponsors start partnering with smaller teams, we should also see a more competitive league. Teams are often separated by how much they can invest in players, with wealthier teams becoming dominant and winning most seasons. Leveling that financial playing field can lead to much more excitement on the actual playing field.

New audiences

It’s no secret that the NFL has long overshadowed the CFL. It’s a bigger league with more teams, more fans and way more money. The NFL has the power to recruit the top Canadian football prospects but we rarely see that kind of movement in the other direction – Logan Bonner being a recent exception.

This leaves the CFL in a weaker position, and in fact, outside of Canada and the United States, many people don’t even realise that Canada has a football league. Much of the world assumes that as with hockey, the two countries play together.

Betting sponsorships help to change that. Sports bettors love to find new sports and leagues to bet on and by partnering with majoring bookmakers, the CFL becomes more visible to these bettors. And once someone has watched a few CFL games, they realise what they’ve been missing out on! Betting sponsorships help the CFL reach new audiences and create new fans.

Decrease stigma of betting

Sports betting will always have its fans. Online sports betting has made it easier than ever, so people who previously didn’t feel comfortable going to betting shops can now bet without feeling nervous or judged.It can be a great way for fans to feel connected to their team and to add an extra level of excitement to the play on the field. Especially for fans who don’t live locally and can’t attend home games, it’s a way to show their support. Also, for most people, the risks are much less dramatic than anything shown on TV.

When betting companies partner with sports teams or leagues, they are able to reduce some of the stigma around betting. CFL fans who see that their favourite team has a betting sponsor no longer have to feel any lurking guilt about betting – unless it’s guilt about betting against their team! This creates a healthier, more open environment. It allows fans and bettors to enjoy the sport without judgement.

For the CFL, these sponsorships have helped to open up discussions about betting. This leads to a happier fanbase. A happy fanbase is what all sports leagues want to have, so in the end, sports betting partnerships and sponsorships are great for the CFL.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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