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A question of esports sponsorship

| By iGB Editorial Team
Boutique law firm Hall Webber LLP specialises in the entertainment and sports fields. Here one of its associates shares his perspective on how betting operators should approach sponsorship agreements in esports.

By Eliott Cheeseman

Esports are a dream opportunity for betting operators. A slow turnover of titles combined with explosive viewing numbers has led to an increase in the number of sportsbooks offering odds on competitive video games. Many intent on attracting the esports betting crowd see sponsorship as a way of helping them integrate into the general esports scene. As well as being picky about with whom they partner, there are three main areas that betting operators should be aware of when entering the space.

1. Reputation of the event and organiser

One thing that goes for both betting operators and people active in the esports space generally, is the need to perform due diligence around the specific esports event and the event operator behind it.

Ultimately, you want to have a sense of who the event operator is and, if the event’s been run before, whether it was a success. If it wasn’t, why not? Betting operators should also ensure that the event operator has the necessary permissions to operate the event and run it with the given esport.

So, conduct your due diligence: get a feel for the reputation of the event itself and scrutinise the organiser behind it.

2. Activation and execution of sponsorship

Think about the activation and execution of the sponsorship. In the esports space there is a lot of room for creativity.

Betting operators should be asking questions such as: 

  • Is there something unique and exclusive you can offer the consumers of the event?
  • Is there a way to create a unique and exclusive set of gambling lines, or have unique gambling offerings, throughout the event? 
  • Is there a way to heighten the esport itself through the gambling offerings being provided? 

I think the esports gambling market is still in its nascent stage. From a creative aspect, betting operators should be thinking about how best they can execute an engaging sponsorship via the event, and if there is an opportunity to add value to the event via a unique gambling product.

3. Understanding the specific esport

Betting operators need to understand the esport and its nuances and how these could cause issues when trying to set betting odds for each esport. Understanding the history of the esport and any recent controversies associated with it (match fixing, cheating, etc.) is vital. How have any issues been addressed by the developer and/or the event operator that betting operators will be working with? All of these details will help interested parties understand and mitigate the risk associated with sponsoring the event.

The bottom line is to understand the esport, its history and the event operator. Equally, you need to know how they’ve activated with the esport in the past, and how they plan on activating with it in the future. 

Image: Michal Konkol/Riot Games

Eliot Cheeseman is a lawyer with Hall Webber LLP, one of Canada’s leading legal firms to focus on esports. Hall Webber is the official legal counsel for some of Canada’s most significant entertainment events, including the Academy for Canadian Cinema and Television and the Canadian Screen Awards. The content in this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Please consult directly with a lawyer before making any decision about your business.

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