UFC differs from all the other American sporting leagues by having a very public affinity for the gambling industry.
While major American leagues have always been connected with those who wish to bet on sports in the USA, there’s one league that has a particularly sweet relationship with the gambling industry. UFC or Ultimate Fighting Championship enjoys regular television air time, and has a massive following among bettors.
Situation with the American laws
The above-mentioned statement may be hard to believe, considering that current American gambling laws prohibit sports betting in much of the country. But there are some states where it is now fully legal including Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
On the other hand a large portion of American sports fans is still gambling regularly on a variety of sporting events, the majority of bets is placed at the offshore sites, as compared to fully legal online sportsbooks in the United States. The situation is changing according to the latest research, and with new states now offering legal betting facilities, more and more Americans are switching to authorized betting sites.
Why sports and betting are not close friends in USA
UFC remains one of the only American sport leagues closely connected with gambling
• Nevada location allows UFC gambling to be legal under American gambling laws
• Founded by Fertitta brothers – renowned American gambling operators
• UFC is now closely affiliated with Ultimate Poker
Naturally, the restrictive gambling regulations in the USA are keeping land-based and online sportsbooks at bay, without a real reach to millions of punters. And then there have already been stories and scandals involving fixed matches, corrupt judges, and dubious betting lines.
All these factors have made USA sports desire less association with gambling and betting. With one huge exception – the UFC.
Why UFC is a different story when it comes to sports betting
The Las Vegas based league has been enjoying gambling sponsorships since its very creation. Well, the main reason is of course their location – Nevada has always allowed gambling and sports betting. Then the UFC is closely tied to Fertitta brothers – renowned casino and gambling moguls – who have actually started the league.
Another thing that differentiates UFC from other sporting leagues in USA is their recent wow to make their fighters appear as ambassadors of Ultimate Poker. The American poker room has recently been reestablished as a legal operator, and is now looking to grab as much of the legal American poker market as possible.
UFC fighters will be promotions Ultimate Poker events, and the league will host ticket giveaways for its bouts through the Ultimate Poker site in return.
Comments from UFC executives
UFC senior vice president for global marketing partnerships, Mike Mossholder, has been quoted in American gambling news saying: “I will simply state that we don’t have any restrictions on our deals with gaming people. The only thing that we have to watch is if a television partner in a certain market doesn’t allow gaming.
He added: “Since we’re a global entity, we have to be aware of that. But we as a brand, we don’t have any problem with the online gaming product and feel very confident in promoting it.” The executive explains the league’s long-standing ties to gambling with its demographics.
“We’re one of those brands that has a young, active fan base … and anything that they enjoy, we’re going to support. We’ve seen research for 10 years that shows our fan base is highly engaged in online poker.” – Mossholder was quoted.
Other factors behind UFC connection to gambling
When we look at international markets, the ties between gambling and sports are much closer. Just look at all the jerseys English Premier League footballers wear. Additionally, it’s a well-known fact that fighting league fans love to gamble.
Also there’s a much broader relationship between gambling and combat sports. Boxing for example is utilizing sports betting odds during fight broadcasts as well as taking full advantage of gambling sponsors to promote the fighters and events. UFC, however, has a much closer tie to gambling, the league even hosts gambling events. For example the Hall of Fame poker tournament, which celebrated the league’s 20th anniversary.
The dilemma before UFC
UFC is now facing quite a choice. From one side it needs to broaden its horizons and reach out to new markets and demographics, but from the other one it need to maintain pretty strong connection to its traditional fans.
And the latter has already returned to them biting, when UFC had to cancel its Full Tilt Poker deal when the federal government was cracking down on online gambling during the events of Black Friday. On the good side, the league is going strong and there certainly needs to be a bigger scandal to force them to cut all ties to gambling.