It appears that Michael Owen has taken up a different kind of ball activity–at least for one night. The former England ace swapped the football studio, for the hustle and bustle of the bingo hall. Owen, 42, spent the evening in Mecca Bingo, Chester, Cheshire. It might come as a surprise to some, but bingo has had a presence in football for many decades. One of the nation’s most beloved social activities, combined with the nation’s biggest sport, kind of makes sense in several ways.
We are going to look at how bingo and football have combined over the years, and do they have a future together.
Online Bingo and Online Casino in Football
One of the first online bingo operators to link up with a footballing partner was none other than Tombola. Established in Sunderland in 1999 by Phil Cronin, Tombola quickly rose to prominence in the online bingo sector, as technological advancements drove the industry forward. By 2010, Tombola was peaking and was looking at ways to expose itself to a wider audience.
Being a success story of the North-East, and with football being in the blood of the locals, it made sense for Tombola to, in some way, be associated with the local football team.
With local hero Niall Quinn being chairman of the firmly established Premier League team, and Tombola excelling in the bingo industry, it seemed like forming a partnership together would make for a romantic union. At the start of the 2010/11 football season, it was announced that a 2-year, £2 million deal had been agreed that would see Tombola become the official kit sponsor for Sunderland AFC.
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Online casinos have a strong presence in football too, with operators such as Sport Pesa sponsoring Everton. Dafabet has sponsored football teams on several occasions, including Fulham, Celtic, and Sunderland. Fun 88 are the current sponsors for Premier League side Newcastle, and Betway sponsors West Ham United, also of the Premiership.
Bingo Sponsoring Football Stadiums
Football stadiums represent a great opportunity for sponsors to give their names a bit more exposure. The name of the stadium will be changed to that of the sponsor, and will then be seen by millions who tune in to watch the games or read about it in a newspaper. Stadium sponsorships are not a new thing, as back in 1986, Coventry city announced a sponsorship deal with Granada Bingo Halls.
At the time, bingo was going through a highly successful period, and Granada Halls were reaping the rewards. The sponsorship deal was in order to raise the awareness of bingo to the male demographic.
Predominantly, bingo had been played by women up until this point, but by sponsoring Coventry City, bingo started to welcome some new (and more masculine) faces. This gave the industry a further boost, taking it to new levels that it had always hoped.
A Long-Term Relationship
While the overall direction of bingo is not certain, it does seem like its future firmly points towards the online sector. Online companies more likely have bigger marketing budgets than local bingo halls, so it is quite possible that we will see more kit sponsorships, or re-branding stadiums in the future. However, the marketing does not necessarily have to be mega-kit deals, or stadium re-branding that is worth millions of pounds.
Stadium advertising boards that fence off the pitch, matchday program marketing, and player sponsorships, are all ideal ways for local business halls to promote themselves. They are ideal for 2 main reasons, firstly they target local audiences. This means that a bingo hall will only be advertising to those most likely to visit, and not wasting money on fans that are highly unlikely to visit.
Secondly, these alternative sponsorship deals are far cheaper options, and as bingo halls will have smaller budgets than online bingo operators, it makes financial sense to pursue these marketing channels. So, it seems like you will be seeing Bingo in a football environment for many years to come.