Formula One has always been one of the grimiest sports of the modern era, from running races in Apartheid South Africa to supporting every dictatorship imaginable. But it likes to present itself as classy, so it never went in on sports betting. But that’s changed now.
F1 announced the deal today ahead of a more formal announcement at a betting conference tomorrow. The big thing for casual fans, by the looks of it, is that you’ll be getting stuff on-screen, as F1 explains:
As part of the deal, ISG will have the right to sub-license Betting Partnership Rights to select betting brands around the world, subject to regulations, including:
•Regionalised branded on-screen graphics
•Physical and virtual trackside signage
•Digital integration across F1’s rapidly expanding digital and social platforms
“Subject to regulations” is a funny disclaimer there. This is a $100 million deal, as CNBC reports, but it’s also one that’s not exactly clear how it’s going to be global. “The current F1 calendar consists of 21 races between March and November, some of which have laws against the advertising and promotion of gambling,” as CNBC points out.
Apparently dictator-friend Bernie Ecclestone looked into taking on betting around 2013, but decided that “the gambling concept was not found suitable,” as CNBC also notes. Suitable. Right. This coming from the guy who publicly announced that, hey, at least Hitler could “get things done.” Gotcha.
In any case, I am glad that F1 is embracing the fact that it’s not really any better than any other kind of sport, even if it still has a race in Monaco or whatever.