Gambling and football have been interlinked almost since the game was invented. The Football Pools has been running for nearly 100 hundred years and allows anyone to bet on the outcome of a number of games. The winners share the money that was pooled together by punters.
In recent years the pools got overlooked in favour of the National Lottery, and high street bookmakers. Then more recently, internet betting has become extremely popular, helped in part by the lockdowns, and this year’s exciting football.
There are many countries where sports betting is popular, and the UK is definitely one of the biggest markets. This is helped in part by horse racing, and of course, the English Premier League.
While the number of punters playing at an online-kasino has soared in recent times, despite all the interest and love of gambling on football, no one has quite pulled off building a casino inside a stadium yet. Could it happen, and perhaps more importantly, should it happen?
What happened to Real Madrid’s proposed casino?
Earlier in the year, reports started to leak out that Real Madrid had plans to build a new casino, which would be housed in one corner of their stadium.
The idea seemed unlikely, but before anyone could question it, the story was being run on many online news outlets and sports websites. As it turns out, the story wasn’t true, or perhaps it was but Real Madrid decided against the idea.
The reason that the story could even hold sway in the Spanish press is because of the love affair between football and betting. The UEFA European Championships this year saw millions of pounds bet on England to win, at least in the UK anyway.
Now the Olympics are running and bets are taking place on women’s football too. Placing a bet for many can add extra excitement, and sometimes it seems like a sure thing. Holland scored 21 goals during only 3 group stage games and looked like a sure thing until crashing out to the USWNT on penalties.
It is this unpredictability that makes betting on football popular with bookmakers and fans.
What are the benefits of linking up with a casino or betting firm?
Any link up between a football team and a casino means an injection of cash. Sponsorship can bring millions of Euros or pounds into a club. The idea of building a stadium could also create jobs and bring money into the surrounding area.
Leeds United Football Club applied for a licence to build a casino on Elland Road a few years back. The licence would have granted around 150 slots and other machines, and a minimum 10,000 sq ft gaming floor for poker, blackjack, and other games.
The casino would have helped local hotels, transports, and restaurants, to increase their revenue. It would have also generated employment, and brought in extra cash to the football club itself.
However, not everyone agrees.
The controversy behind football and betting
A decision by Real Madrid to build a casino would have been strange. Largely because any gambling sponsorship of football clubs has to end this year. Similarly, in the UK the government is also talking about banning any sponsorship between football and gambling.
There are currently 8 EPL clubs with sponsorship from casinos or gambling firms. These include West Ham, Newcastle, and Leeds. In the past, Tottenham Hotspur also had an online casino sponsor, in Mansion.
Many campaign groups have objected to the use of betting firms for sponsors as they believe it encourages problem gambling, and can attract children and teens.
With the accessibility of online casinos, the fears are that underage people will start to gamble online because their favorite team is sponsored by that site.
Is it likely to happen now?
There have been talks between Premier League clubs and casinos in the past, and there are many European clubs that have link ups with these businesses too.
Stoke City went as far as letting a betting company sponsor their stadium. Stoke’s ground is known as Bet365 Stadium and has been a source of controversy to the club. Because of the potential new sponsorship laws coming in, the club may have to change the stadium’s name.
It is these new sponsorship laws that may make it difficult for football clubs to link up fully. At the moment, it seems unlikely that any club will get involved in building a real casino and installing all the games that entails.
Across the pond though, things are different.
American football sees things differently
Sports betting laws were until recent years controlled under federal law. However, a few years ago, the Supreme Court decided that the law was out of date and it was time to strike it down.
This opened up the opportunity for sports betting across the country, with each state being able to draw up its own laws and regulations. A couple of states have held off, but many more have seen the financial opportunities this can allow.
Despite the NFL initially protesting against the law being changed, they seem to have now accepted that this is something that many clubs and fans want. In-stadium betting in special lounges has been given the go-ahead by the NFL in states where sports betting is legal.
One club aims to take this further.
Of course, it is in Las Vegas
For football fans in Europe, it would be almost unimaginable to see a club move towns. In the US though, some baseball and gridiron teams move to completely different states.
Las Vegas Raiders, formerly based in Oakland, and Los Angeles, will have a gambling lounge but they also plan to take betting a step further.
The Raiders have linked up with MGM resorts and will have an area called the MGM Club where fans can enjoy the game and bet on the outcome. The idea is to bring an immersive gambling atmosphere to this lounge area. They predict that each guest will bet over $140 a game.
It seems that Real Madrid’s plan to build a casino was likely fake news, and with the sponsorship laws being changed in Spain, it will stay that way.
The UK is in a different situation, as so many teams still have betting sponsorship. If the government decides to let sponsorship continue, it may not be too long before one of the big clubs decides that a casino might work for them.