NASCAR Now Allows Gambling Sponsorships

Richmond Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, USA

30-second summary

  • NASCAR is now allowing racing teams to accept gambling sponsors
  • NASCAR itself is looking for an official gaming partner
  • The association already has a deal with Sportradar for its integrity systems
  • New sports betting regulations for NASCAR are coming before the 2019 season

Gambling sponsors coming to NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is now allowing gambling sponsors into the sport, following the example set by other major sports in North America.

The organization is looking for a data deal to cover its events throughout the season. An industry group within NASCAR looks at opportunities within the sports betting space. This body hopes to bring in new regulations for the sport before the start of the 2019 season. The first race of the year will be the Daytona 500 on February 17.

The industry group is negotiating with a number of sports betting operators to line up a single major sponsor partner for the entire organization, as the NBA, MLB, and NFL have all done recently.

There is an issue that has to be dealt with regard to television networks. NASCAR is televised by NBC Sports and Fox Sports, and both networks are willing to provide coverage involving these new gambling sponsors. However, there are certain limitations.

For example, gambling sponsors will not be given exposure through in-car cameras because there are legal issues involving the advertising of gambling companies in regions where sports betting is still not legal. The television networks naturally do not want to open themselves up to any potential legal action.

Gambling sponsorships in other sports

Gambling sponsors have long been accepted in sports outside of the United States. The top tiers of football (soccer) have long-standing relationships with these sponsors. For example, 60% of the teams in the two tiers of English soccer have gambling sponsors.

Of the 20 clubs in the top tier, nine have a gambling company as their main sponsor. In the championship tier, which is the next tier down in English soccer, 17 of the 24 teams have a gambling operator as their predominant sponsors.

Other leagues in Europe have similar stories. In the US, the NBA and MLB both now have a deal with MGM Resorts is their major gaming sponsor while the NFL has gone with Caesars as their casino partner. Other major sports are also actively looking for opportunities in the space, just like NASCAR.

NASCAR and sports betting

NASCAR has been struggling with declines in viewership and all-around interest. The organization is looking at ways to re-invigorate the sport and reach new audiences. They see sports betting as a possible way of doing so.

Drivers believe that this could be the case. One of the names linked with NASCAR historically, Dale Earnhardt Jr., says: “I think it would create more excitement, bring more attention, more people in attendance. I can see it having a ton of positives.”

Another great NASCAR driver, Jimmie Johnson, believes that it is a great idea and that illegal sports betting has been going on for years. NASCAR is putting protections in place to ensure that sports betting will not have a detrimental impact on the integrity of the sport.

The fraud detection system of world-renowned Sportradar will monitor suspicious betting activity on NASCAR events. There are plans to open sports betting kiosks at the racetracks in states where sports betting is legal. This has been done at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR officials are confident that this is a positive move, saying: “It could add a new element of excitement — whether it’s wagering on who’s going to win or who’ll win the first segment or a one-on-one bet, just like in golf, where it might be Bubba Watson against Tiger Woods.”

The new guidelines and regulations coming in 2019 will shed a lot of light on NASCAR’s plans with regard to sports betting. While they will include basic rules about the roles of drivers and teams with sports betting, they will likely also give an idea of how NASCAR will use sports betting to enlarge the sport’s profile.