How Will the Boom of Sportsbook Sponsorship in American Sports Affect Nascar?

How NASCAR Engines Work
How NASCAR Engines Work

In the past few years, the sports gambling industry in the United States has exploded. In May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, essentially legalizing sports betting in the United States. At the time, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court: “The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the constitution. Paspa is not.” Ever since, sportsbook betting like has gone from strength to strength, and sports betting is now legal in more than two dozen states in the United States, though many more have only in-person betting. As this industry has boomed, unsurprisingly these companies are now sponsoring major sports teams and leagues, with the four major sports leagues: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL all having sportsbook sponsors in various capacities and now Nascar has got in on the action. The financial and commercial boost sports leagues in the US can gain from legalized sportsbook betting is undoubtedly massive, and this list of the best betting apps show how many operators are trying to establish themselves in the lucrative U.S. market.

How Nascar is dealing with sports betting partnerships

Nascar was the first league to partner with American Gaming Association in September 2020, and in the lead up to the 2022 Nascar season, plans were laid out to position the sport as one of the biggest betting markets in the U.S. DraftKings and BetMGM already sponsoring Bubba Wallace and Richard Childress Racing, but wider plans to expand these partnerships will continue to appear. Joe Solosky, the managing director of sports betting for Nascar, said: “Nascar partnered with the American Gaming Association and any betting issues we have, we work with them with limits and any other gambling things. On the integrity side, we don’t want to compromise our integrity. The garage access could potentially expose the sport and we’ve seen this happen in other sports where athletes get in trouble.” Nascar has been very careful to make sure everything is legitimate. Every employee at Nascar in all sections of the sport has to participate in a tutorial about race fixing and betting on the sport, as well as taking a quiz about what can and cannot be bet on in Nascar. Solosky’s team has regular meetings with Nascar’s stakeholders, including team owners, race officials and the drivers themselves to discuss the ever-changing relationship between sports betting and Nascar. “I think Nascar is not alone in this in that all of the leagues see it as a way to monetize and grow the sport,” Solosky said. “There aren’t a lot of people who have this experience and we’re demystifying it at the league level.”

Nascar’s plans to become a national leader in sports betting

The thing Nascar doesn’t have to its advantage that NBA and NFL markets may have, is fantasy sports, so the sport needs to be creative to use sports betting as a way to grow Nascar. Solosky said: “There are a ton of users for fantasy but they’re already fans of the sport. It’s hard to convert a fantasy football fan to NASCAR, but you can do it with football betting with something like BetMGM, which has other types of betting.” Fubo Sportsbook became the fourth authorized sportsbook partner of Nascar in October, alongside BetMGM, Penn Interactive and WynnBET. 

In the build up to the 2022 season, Nascar worked with Genius to work on different types of betting on races as opposed to just the winner, such as over/under and spread betting. Solosky said: “2022 is a big year for us because it’s the first year we’ll have an apples-to-apples comparison. We’ll have all of our partners for the whole season and we’re going to activate some tracks.” Traditionally, Nascar has accounted for roughly 1% of the total handle of sports betting in the U.S., and Solosky has plans to double that figure to 2% in the 2022 season. “It’s kind of a cross-sport promotional strategy that we’re taking,” Solosky said. “We’re growing the pie, and hopefully growing our handle with it… NASCAR really viewed sports betting as less of a revenue-making opportunity and more of a fan-engagement tool, to use sports betting as a driver, pardon the pun, to grow the sport in terms of fan engagement.”

Betting beyond the U.S. on Nascar

In order for these sportsbook partnerships to be successful, Nascar will have to look abroad as well as within the United States to grow their brand. In 2020, there were fewer than 10 international bookmakers offering live streams of the races. Now, there are over 50, thanks to the organization’s partnership with IMG arena. “We’re understanding from those reports that we’re getting from IMG of where these people are tuning in, what they’re betting on, what they’re watching,” Solosky said. “And it helps us grow our product, understanding what people are betting on in a more mature market, and bringing that to the U.S. as the U.S. matures a little bit behind some of the other countries.” Canada could be the first international market Nascar targets, as a bill is very close to being passed by Parliament that would legalize single-game sports betting in the country. Solosky said: “There will probably be a significant focus as we look forward in terms of marketing more towards Canada, especially from a betting perspective.”

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