In 2008 when the UK Advertising Standards Authority said that poker can be described as a sport, the beloved card game gained a status unseen before.
In the last few years there have been various debates and arguments over the distinction between a game and a sport in relation to poker.
Because poker now boasts a huge television audience and a multi-billion online industry, it has integrated itself into the lives of other sports because of the modern approach to the game; a focus, a determination, a rigorous training and almost always a healthy lifestyle (contrary to the stereotype of the poker player barely seeing the light of day and just eating fast food).
Betting sites are incredibly keen to make the most of the online gambling boom which has seen the major sites adorned on almost all televised sporting occasions for the past few years.
You don’t have to look far these days to see the influence poker now has in advertising in televised mainstream sport. Nearly half of the Premier League football teams have a betting site as their shirt sponsors: Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic are sponsored by 188BET, West Ham is sponsored by SBOBET and Wolves are sponsored by Sporting Bet. Look abroad and it’s the same.
Real Madrid is sponsored by Bwin, a betting company who also sponsored AC Milan last year and even sponsor the Portuguese League Cup, officially the Bwin Cup. Last year the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced that Pokerstars were to become the team’s official gaming partner.
Less visible partnerships are sprouting up everywhere too. In 2009 Betfair signed a whopping £1.2 million sponsorship deal with Barcelona to be the club’s official betting partner. In fact, every Premier League team in this country now has an official betting partner.
Betting sites are incredibly keen to make the most of the online gambling boom which has seen the major sites adorned on almost all televised sporting occasions for the past few years. Partnerships like the one mentioned above (the RFU and Pokerstars) have been able to maximise their marketing potential by offering Pokerstars customers the opportunity to win England tickets.
In return, Pokerstars can, and often do, picture England’s rugby players at a Pokerstars poker table. They also have a full perimeter advertising board at Twickenham.
There can be no denying that there is now a clear link between what was called ‘gaming/gambling’ in the past and modern sport. Poker has been the catalyst for this change in thinking, and poker continues to be the driving force behind the credibility of ‘card sports’.