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Formula 1 Is Opening Up To The Betting Industry

26th March, 20:45

Gambling is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and its relationship with professional sports is well documented. In football, the vast majority of teams in the top two divisions are either sponsored or financially supported in some way by sports betting companies.

Likewise, in F1 there is a long and storied history of commercial relationships between specific events, racers, teams, and gambling companies. The 2020 season however, will be the first in which punters can bet live in-race.

The Interregional Sports Group (ISG) agency will team up with sports data intelligence provider Sportradar to offer comprehensive odds before and during races. In this article we take a look at how this new relationship could change the sport for fans.

There are no shortage of sites for fans of F1 betting with many markets already having been covered by most bookmakers. Run-of-the-mill markets already available to bet on include constructor markets, drivers to be classified, podium finishes, head-to-heads, and group winners.

In effect the betting market already available for F1 is pretty basic and caters mainly for the needs of casual gamblers. The deal between the ISG and Sportradar will flood sports betting sites with much more comprehensive data that will facilitate more in-depth betting markets.

The first big change will obviously be the ability to bet on outcomes during races rather than just before. The result will be fluctuating odds that players can either take advantage of or fall afoul of throughout events.

In addition to this, the additional data supplied to betting companies by Sportradar will open up the possibility of new and diverse betting markets. According to recent reports there will be a minimum of 30 new betting markets available to customers with many more additional, enhanced markets in the pipeline.

Handicaps, specific events such as crashes, or unexpected pit stops all look set to be available to bet on.

In the UK the only way to watch live F1 events is by purchasing a subscription to Sky Sports. If you wait for the right time you can snap up a deal to watch just the F1 channel for as little as £10 per month, otherwise you'll be looking at twice that price in addition to installation costs.

With other sports such as football, bookmakers usually offer customers a live stream of games with in-play betting on offer. Whilst there have been no official announcements about a similar offer with F1, many are predicting that betting sites will be able to offer live streams of events with in-race betting.

If you're not a seasoned gambler and don't want to spend mega bucks on F1 betting, you could just place a small bet in order to avail of a live stream. A weekly £1 bet is certainly a lot cheaper than a monthly Sky Sports deal, regardless of what deal you find.

The revenues of F1 have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years with figures flip-flopping year on year. Last year revenues rose despite the loss of the Bahrain GP, which up until then paid the largest hosting fees of the season.

F1 is now seeking to boost revenues through new, lucrative streaming deals, with a partnership with Amazon very much on the cards. Amazon, of course, has relationships with other car-related entertainment like the Grand Tour. However, the recent deal with sports betting sites may reduce the need for the sport to sell its viewing rights to the highest bidder.

The global gambling industry is a formidable beast with multi-billion dollar annual revenues. In other sports such as football, cricket and rugby league, betting companies have invested huge amounts of money into sponsorships and infrastructure. The benefits have been felt across all three sports.

It is likely that F1 will be no different. With the added interest in F1 betting, the sport's revenues should grow at a healthy rate over the coming years.

The increased wealth of the sport should result in greater spending from individual teams, which will hopefully translate into more exciting races and championships. In addition to this, there should be no drastic increases in prices for viewing fans.

Sports betting is often viewed through negative eyes by many sports fans and commentators. However, it is important to note the benefits that the industry has had on a myriad of differing sports.

In football, for example, the sponsorship provided by a series of betting companies has helped to keep a number of second division clubs afloat. Most notably, the sponsorship of a medium-sized betting company allowed Derby County to sign former Manchester United and England international star Wayne Rooney.

For all the negatives, one thing that cannot be argued is that betting companies bring greater investment into the sports that they are involved with. If F1 proves to be popular with British gamblers, large sponsorship deals will follow, which will have a positive impact on the sport.

For us as consumers, the latest deal also means at the very least a temporary postponement in the break-up of F1 rights. Whilst the current price to watch Sky Sports on F1 might be steep, it could be a whole lot steeper if rights were to be split amongst Amazon, Sky, and another broadcaster.

Sports betting will also help to increase the profile of the sport, something which marketing executives have been trying and failing to do for some years now. So whilst a close relationship between F1 and betting may not sound ideal, it does have a lot of positives.