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Why is there No Gambling Sponsors in Japanese Football?

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 216

Pin Why is there No Gambling Sponsors in Japanese Football? EFE
Why is there No Gambling Sponsors in Japanese Football? EFE

Why is there No Gambling Sponsors in Japanese Football?

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 216

Despite the impressive development in the Japanese national football scene, this has not translated into sponsorship deals with gambling brands akin as happens in other parts of the world.

In English Football, for instance, half of premier league clubs had gambling sponsors for the 2019-20 season. 17 out of 24 Championship teams also had gambling sponsors. For the season alone, the sponsored clubs were to earn over £350m from sponsorship.

Gambling companies accounted for 12% of the total UK sports sponsorship in 2019. One of the most popular gambling shirt sponsors in football is 888 casino, which is no surprise due to how big they are as a casino company.  The casino brand has other sponsorship agreements across the world with big clubs, including the New York Jets of the National Football League.

In Japan where top clubs are going to great lengths to attract top talents, such sponsorship would go a long way. The question is, why are there no gambling sponsors in Japanese football?

Japanese Football is Ripe for Gambling Sponsorship

There’s no denying that Japan has a strong football culture with the Japan Professional Football League (J. League) boasting over 10 million fans. What’s more, the country hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. The Women’s National team has fared better than the Men’s team, becoming the only Asian team to have won the cup in 2011.

Football continues enjoying a sort of revival in Japan with massive investment and a growing fan base. Since the early 90s, when the J League started, Japan has grown into Asia’s first football superpower. The league started attracting high profile footballers from across the globe, such as former Barcelona superstar Andres Iniesta, Zico Fernando Torres, and David Villa.

In 2019, the Japan Professional Football League raked in 85.6 billion Japanese yen in revenue. At the time, there were 58 football teams in three divisions and many other amateur teams. All these numbers and development points to an industry that is ripe for investment. However, looking at the football clubs, including Cerezo Osaka, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Kashima Antlers, Gamba Osaka you’ll notice they don’t have gambling firms or casino brands as sponsors. Instead, electronic companies and other local brands dominated the sponsorship deals. These include Panasonic, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, Segway Inc., Sony, Nike, Toyota, and au 5G, among others.

Why Gambling Sponsors Stay Away from Japan

To appreciate the reason no gambling brand has invested in Japanese football, you’ve to appreciate the complexity of gambling laws in the country. The regulations prohibit legal casinos though lotteries, pachinko, and sports betting are legal. Soccer Toto or football pools betting on J-league is also legal in addition to keiba (horse racing), oto resu (motorcycle racing), kyotei (boat racing), and keirin (bicycle racing). While land-based casinos are illegal, the law doesn’t explicitly ban foreign-based gambling platforms. Japanese gamblers can place wagers on their favorite sports on such platforms. 

With no licensing for online gambling platforms, the industry has not thrived as in many other countries. Foreign-based casinos and sportsbooks can’t partner with local football teams. Sponsorship is all about profits and now that these gambling companies can’t freely advertise their services in the country, there’s no motivation to invest. The restrictive gambling environment in Japan diminishes the allure of sponsorship for Japanese football.

Future of Gambling Sponsorship in Japan

Japanese firm Hitachi spurred the modern age of football sponsorship. Their deal with Liverpool FC in 1979 for £100,000 over two years heralded the birth of sponsorship. Today, such sponsorship deals run into millions of dollars and can transform the fortunes of a football club. The latest updates on Japanese gambling regulations limit the market to onlythree integrated casino resorts. Such developments dim any prospects of growth in gambling sponsorship.

Final Thoughts

 While the relationship between gambling and football sponsorship has continued thriving across the globe, the same cannot be said for Japan. The restrictive gambling laws here hinder the biggest casinos and sportsbooks from legally sponsoring football clubs in the country. If these laws were to change, gambling sponsors would start partnering with football clubs here to unlock the potential in this industry.

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