Golf in the gambling industry

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick February 19, 2020 12:48

Every year across the world avid sports fan wager almost half a billion dollars on the outcomes of their favourite sports. Football, or soccer as it is known in the United States, is the most popular sport when it comes to having a punt. However, a phenomenal amount of money is also wagered on golf.

Recently the PGA Tour struck a major deal to sell shot data to gambling companies in an effort to boost the popularity of golf wagering. The hope is that the availability of this new data will make golf a more enticing prospect for gamblers.

That isn’t to say that the sport isn’t already popular with gamblers – hundreds of thousands of punters had wagered money on the 2019 Open. In this article we take a look at the various ways in which golf is represented in the gambling industry.

Gambling sponsorship

As a part of golf’s commitment to garner more interest with gamblers, major tournaments have begun to seek sponsorship opportunities with major gambling companies. The Irish Open is just one tournament reaping the rewards from a commercial gambling deal.

Coming just two weeks before The Open in the golfing calendar, The Irish Open has always struggled to attract attention. At one point the future of the tournament looked in serious doubt as the prize pot dropped to £1.5 million, severely damaging the tournament’s ability to attract top players.

Sponsorship deals with various sports betting companies then allowed the Irish Open to increase its prize pot from £1.5 million to £6.5 million. The result has been somewhat of a renaissance for the tournament with more big name players taking part.

© Facebook. Mount Juliet Golf & Spa Hotel, host of the 2020 Irish Open, which has benefited from sponsorship deals with sport betting companies.

Other similarly sized tournaments around the globe are striking out similar sponsorship deals to boost their profile, prize pots and golfing significance. Without the help and the profile of gambling companies, the continued success of these such tournaments would have been very much in doubt.

Golfing gambling games

Millions of gamblers across the world log into online casino sites every day to play online slots. These games are the crown in the jewel of the remote gambling sector and are the main financial driver for remote gambling companies.

Jackpots and wins are secondary considerations when it comes to online slots players, who according to research pay more attention to exciting themes rather than financial rewards.

Films and television shows are often the inspiration for globally successful slots, but now golf is stepping up to the mark. Many major golf bodies have sold the rights to their tournaments to online slots developers.

The resulting fully licensed, golf inspired slots have proved incredibly popular with online players. Not only have these deals been financially important to world golfing bodies, but they have also helped to market the game to a previously untapped demographic of potential fans.

© Tristan Jones

The deal also works in the favour of online casinos, hosting golf slots means they can attract golf fans to their site. Top online casinos feature a whole host of other top quality slots on their site, with various themes, so it is likely these golf fans will be tempted into trying their hand at other games, developing them into loyal customers who regularly visit great casinos such as 777 casino and play online slots for hours.

Player deals

For those at the top of the world game, golf can be incredibly lucrative and open the door to major sponsorship and endorsement deals. Since turning pro in 1996 Tiger Woods has earned an estimated $1.4 billion from sponsorships, which significantly dwarfs the $122.5 million he has made in prize money.

If less than 10% of one of golf’s greatest ever players’ income has come from prize money, what does that say of players with less than half the talent of Woods? For middling players who rarely bother the leader boards, a career in golf can be much less financially rewarding than you may think.

© Tristan Jones

In the early months of 2019 the PGA changed its stance on gambling sponsorships, for the first time allowing betting companies to sponsor individual players.

Prior to that, middle-ranked players were restricted to a small pool of potential sponsorship avenues. The decision from the PGA has opened up a whole new world of financial possibilities for golfers, and could lead to a greater pool of players entering the professional game.

Global profile

There are a myriad of criteria that can be used to assess and rank the popularity of world sports. However, the most useful indicator of popularity is undoubtedly the amount of fans that a particular sport has.

In those terms golf is only the tenth most popular sport in the world, with an estimated 390 million fans around the globe. That may seem like a lot, but it is less than half the figure for volleyball and a tenth of the estimated fans of football.

There are of course a whole host of ways that golf can look to boost its global profile without gambling. However, at the time of writing gambling seems to be the easiest and most logical way of golf attracting new fans.

Industry figures suggest that 1.6 billion people around the world gamble on sports at least once a year. Golf’s rise in the world of sports betting is not just financially important, but from a marketing point of view, it is invaluable.

Maintaining integrity

As gold expands into new gambling horizons, it is important to remember that the sport has a duty to respect and maintain its integrity. There are numerous examples of individual sports, teams and players who have gone too far in the pursuit of sponsorship money and exposure.

Golf, more than perhaps any other sport in the world has a reputation that is vital to uphold. A reputation that captures the very essence of the sport for players and fans. Ill-conceived deals with gambling companies can damage golf’s reputation.

© Tristan Jones

The best example of the negative impact that gambling can have on golf came last year at Royal Portrush when an Irish bookmaker created an avert that mocked the personal struggles of Tiger Woods.

Tiger’s arrived, hope his driving improves” was the phrase accompanying a picture of a crashed car. The advert was not only in poor taste and damaging to the reputation of the bookmaker, but it was also damaging to the reputation of the tournament and the sport.

Golf must do everything in its power to limit stunts like this to a minimum, whilst also using gambling to boost the profile of the sport. It is a fine line to balance and we will find out in the coming years just how successful golf will be in straddling that.



Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick February 19, 2020 12:48
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1 Comment

  1. Andi Duferense October 19, 07:39

    I saw The Golf Business being talked about on South African TV!

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