Leeds United was the latest UK club to announce its deal with a casino operator. The line-up of football clubs, which revealed their plans to team up with gambling operators, has already included Newcastle United, Glasgow Rangers, West Ham, Sheffield United, Coventry, Gillingham and League One’s Hull City.
These agreements were driven with updated UK gambling legislation, which gives substantial boost to gambling giants. According to BBC, at the moment many gaming companies from the US and UK are looking for partnership.
Football clubs, faced with rising player costs and falling match day revenues, are developing new initiatives aimed at creating new sources of income such as kit sponsorship, merchandising etc. Many clubs already promote online casinos on their websites.
“Football generally cannot support football, and certainly at our level it cannot support itself,” Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has said.
Leeds, that was relegated from the Premiership last season with debts of GBP100 million (US$181 million), now has a chance to earn GBP5 million (US$9 million) due to the recent agreement with gambling company Stanley Leisure. This Britain’s biggest casino operator plans to build a GBP125m gambling and leisure complex on a training ground next to Leeds’ Elland Road stadium.
Some other clubs also joined this trend. For example, West Ham is going to raise some money with a GBP70 million casino and leisure complex. Rangers stroke a deal with Las Vegas Sands Inc to increase annual income and regenerate the area around its Ibrox ground. Newcastle and MGM along with Gillingham and Coventry also plan to develop similar joint venture. The US casino operator Caesers is going to develop its activity near to Manchester City’s ground and the new Wembley stadium in London.
“The casino operators see a market up for grabs,” said Michael Stirling, of London law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, who advises football clubs on investment. “Supporters are increasingly coming to matches and spending money and the clubs and casinos want to tap into that.”
Mr Stirling said the casino operators would be getting “relatively cheap deals” developing the projects in partnership with football clubs, with thousands of potential punters and established locations.