In recent years, crypto casinos have greatly increased in popularity thanks to their unique blend of anonymity, enhanced security, increased transparency and quicker transactions.

This new way of gambling fosters more trust among its users and has helped value the crypto casino market at approximately $263.3 billion by the end of 2023.

But, what exactly has helped to cause this boom in popularity?

sports sponsorships in crypto gambling

In the past month alone, searches for “crypto casino” have increased by 123%, reaching an average of over 106,000 monthly searches.

Notably, one of the biggest players in the crypto casino industry is Stake.com, a company synonymous with being a key sponsor for some of the most followed sports teams in the world, including Alfa Romeo in Formula 1 and the Everton soccer team.

This got us thinking, how much impact do these sports sponsorships have on the overall boom of the crypto and casino industry, and is there a moral obligation to make sure the industry promotes gambling responsibly to the fans of these sports?

Like regular gambling, investing in cryptocurrencies and using crypto casinos are considered high-risk investments due to their volatile nature; therefore, it’s important that the industry promotes these activities responsibly and to appropriate audiences.

This poses the question, if celebrities aren’t allowed to advertise gambling ads, where do sports team sponsorships sit on this spectrum?

In 2023, Gary Neville was called out for tweeting about gambling due to the underage demographic of his followers. However, the responsibility put onto celebrities around gambling ads isn’t extended to sporting teams and their players despite the young demographics of fans who often follow the teams.

This study aims to delve deeper into these responsibilities while also unveiling key sports and teams which have been fundamental in helping scale the cryptocurrency and casino industry worldwide.

Revealed: The crypto companies and casinos which saw the biggest increase in brand awareness after sponsorship

By analysing the Google search volume of specific crypto casinos and companies three months before and after the announcement of their sports sponsorship, we could conclude which companies benefited the most from the partnership in terms of their brand awareness.

search visibility increase

While many marketing efforts will have contributed to the overall success of these businesses, these sports sponsorships can reach mass audiences globally, having a huge and instant impact on the overall visibility and demand of the brand.

Since the announcement of BingX’s partnership with Chelsea FC in January 2024, the company saw the highest increase in search demand, surging by 4702% and saw over 368,000 monthly searches – highlighting a highly successful sponsorship with the British soccer team.

Stake.com saw the second-highest increase in search demand at 1126%, following three sponsorships with Alfa Romeo in 2023 and 2024 and Everton in 2022. Followed by Whale Fin with a 170% increase in search demand, having partnered with Chelsea FC in 2022.

However, not all sponsorships have proved to be as lucrative. ZondaCrypto saw the lowest public search demand while sponsoring the Italian soccer team, Juventus. According to data, the company saw a -96% decline in search demand whilst sponsoring the soccer team, dropping from over 8,000 monthly searches to 300.

The most prolific crypto sponsor in the study was eToro, with 19 total team sponsors across various soccer teams. The sponsorship with soccer teams across Europe, including England, Denmark, Italy, France and Germany, have led to a 4% increase in public search demand for the company.

Crypto.com was the most varied in their approach; instead of focusing on a specific sport, they sponsor 12 teams across 6 different sporting industries, including NBA, NHL, Soccer, eSports, UFC and Formula 1. This more comprehensive approach to sponsorships has worked for the cryptocurrency exchange site, seeing a 57% average increase in search demand and an average of 135,000 monthly searches.

Which sports increased crypto brand awareness the most?

By comparing the search demand three months before and after the sponsorship announcements for each sport, the study concluded which sports would be the best to sponsor as prospective crypto sports betting sites and currencies.

sports that helped increase crypto brand awareness

The study revealed that eSports is the most lucrative sport to sponsor as a prospective crypto company, showcasing a +188% average increase in search demand for the company. While there has only been one sponsorship so far for a leading eSports organisation Fnatic, it has proved to be a successful avenue for brand awareness that could be further explored.

The second most lucrative sport to invest in, seeing an average 180% increase in brand awareness after the sponsorship, is Formula 1. Alfa Romeo, Redbull, McLaren, Ferrari, Williams, Haas, Alpine, and Formula 1 themselves have helped promote crypto companies over the years and have proved to be successful in helping to increase overall brand awareness for these companies.

Stake.com in particular saw a 3365% increase in search demand within the three months after their partnership with Alfa Romeo in Jan 2024, while Crypto.com saw a 174% increase in 2021, having announced their partnership with Aston Martin.

In third place is soccer, helping increase the average search demand for crypto brands and casinos by 161% on average after any sponsorship announcements. BingX witnessed the highest increase of 4702% after their sponsorship with Chelsea in 2024, followed by Crypto.com sponsoring PSG in 2021 (+188%), then WhaleFin for Chelsea in 2022 (170%) and XBTO for Inter Miami in 2021 (165%).

Meanwhile, UFC and the NFL saw a negative increase in online demand for the crypto companies that sponsored them. UFC was down by 49%, and NFL was down by 21% in search demand.

These sports are, however, primarily US-based sports, and the gambling laws state by state may impact their popularity, which is something to consider when choosing a sports team to sponsor.

The responsibility of the industry…

Sports is one of the biggest industries in the world, making it one of the best ways to advertise your business. However, sports also come with a mixed demographic of young and old fans, with sporting heroes like Messi being idols for many young and aspiring football players.

So while sports may be a great avenue to get your business to the forefront of people’s minds, it may also be directed in the wrong direction.

When analysing demographic social following data for 55 sports teams that crypto and crypto casino companies have endorsed, our data revealed that 35.8 million fans are under 18 years old – averaging 6% of their total fan base.

Meanwhile, fans between the ages of 18 and 25 make up nearly half of their total fan base (43% / 269.1 million fans). They are predominantly male, which is considered the most vulnerable age category and gender to engage in risky gambling behaviour.

In light of this, we’ve revealed which teams have the youngest demographics so that companies can ensure they consider this before deciding which sports to sponsor.

sports with youngest fan audience

While eSports came out as the most beneficial for brand awareness, it also has the largest following for those under 18, making up 8% of its fan base. According to social data, 59% of Fnatic’s audience on Instagram is in the more vulnerable under-25 category, equal to 671,000 fans.

Basketball came in a close second, seeing on average 46% of the following for NBA, USA Basketball and WNBA in the under-25 category (35.4 million fans), including 7% under 18 – making up 5.2 million fans.

It was followed by soccer and the NHL seeing an average of 6% of fans under 18 years old.

The study also found that out of every sport which has endorsed crypto companies, UFC had the overall lowest fan following under the ages of 18, making up only 3%, while Formula 1 and Baseball overall had the lowest following in the more vulnerable age category under the age of 25 – making up 33% of their fan base.

What is also important to remember is that this study is just a snapshot of a general team’s following.

Many individual sports stars, like Everton goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, have a large following, which lends itself to the most vulnerable audience to gambling addictions. His audience on Instagram is predominantly male (76.45%), and aged between 18 and 24 years old (42.81%), and even has 91,000 Instagram followers (7%) who are under 18.

This is the most vulnerable category of people likely to engage in unhealthy gambling habits, and yet 5 out of the last 9 Instagram posts have the Stake.com logo visible in the pictures.

So the question remains, while sports sponsorships have proven to play a pivotal role in the boom of crypto and crypto casino popularity, is it a form of gambling advertising, and is it any different to celebrity endorsements?

Sources:

  1. https://www.coingecko.com/en/global-charts
  2. https://www.ibisworld.com/global/market-research-reports/
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Eugene Abungana

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I have worked with several companies in the past including Economy Watch, and Milkroad. Writing for BitEdge is highly satisfying as I get an opportunity to share my knowledge with a broad community of gamblers.

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Will Wood

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Updated on 16/04/2024