India, Dec. 1 -- The impact of COVID-19 is palpable in all spheres of life. It has been an eternity since the fans would fill football and cricket stadiums to the brim. Scores of people would flock to the venues, flouting their teams' colours with pride but now, all of it is reduced to seemingly endless aisles of empty seats.
This is one of the many things that the pandemic has prompted us sports lovers to contemplate. When will they get to pack the stadiums and cheer for their local team while enjoying the Mexican wave? In fact, it is not just the fans but even the sports bodies are wondering. Keeping aside the loss in popularity, the financial losses incurred on the back of this will be challenging to mitigate.
Football and Cricket Took a Sharp Hit
Take a look at the cricketing scene in India - the IPL, one of the most expensive cricket leagues in the world, was conducted in UAE this year on account of the pandemic. Teams played the games in empty stadiums with the fans tuning in for the matches through streaming sites.
Even in football, all of the 110 league matches of the Indian Super League will be played in 3 coveted stadiums in the Indian state of Goa. Once again, these matches will be streamed online.
A common denominator in the above two situations is the massive loss in ticket revenue. Through the years, fans have religiously visited the stadiums to support their team; the ticket costs from these would help cover the ground maintenance costs, salaries, and other expenses needed to manage a professional team.
Not to mention, with the sporting world poorly affected, the scouting of local talent has also become problematic. Domestic and state leagues and tournaments will be among the worst affected by all of this. And the kicker - no one knows when things may be back to normal.
Can Online Sports Betting Pave the Way Forward?
Let's take a look at European football - it is a common practice there to have sportsbooks sponsor the teams. Operators like 1xBet sponsor FC Barcelona, Unibet sponsors RB Leipzig and PSG. The list goes on and on. Interestingly, many of these are the best online sports betting sites in India and are raging quite a storm among the local punters.
In a way, this is a symbiotic relationship - the operators benefit from the customers they are bringing to the website while the teams benefit from the sponsorship deals.
Furthermore, with fans staying home and watching the games, many of these sportsbooks have even started to stream the games live on their platform! Even in these testing times, it is a win-win situation for both parties.
It Will Need Effort
Now, there is no reason to see why India cannot enter into a similar model itself. By legalising sports betting and taxing the winnings, the nation may open up the market to sportsbooks which can not only sponsor the teams but provide a way to follow and bet on the same on their platforms.
Ultimately, for the audience, this serves as yet another channel for them to watch their match on except here, they can bet as they see fit. Bet on every ball, bet on every goal, or not even bet at all.
Source : Press Release
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