Partnerships between bookmakers and electronic sports teams are increasingly common in Brazil. The number of organizations in the competitive segment sponsored by companies in the area has grown since 2022, following a trend in football and sports leagues, even with limitations in certain modalities.
The sports betting industry also gained attention from the Federal Government recently, which is evaluating a regulation and collection of taxes on online betting in order to compensate the losses with the changes disclosed in the Income Tax table.
Bookmaker partnerships with eSports teams
One of the first teams to close a sponsorship of this type is Imperial, called Imperial Sportsbet.io due to the sponsorship with the betting company, which started in 2020, which included naming rights in June 2021 and which is valid until the beginning from 2024.
“Sports betting houses are very present in Brazilian and global sports. If we look at football, in a Serie A or B game, we will see the presence of five or more houses, either on the clubs’ jerseys, on the broadcast or on the stadium signs. The presence of bookmakers in esports has also been a reality for a long time. Practically all the biggest national teams and the main ones in the world have a segment sponsor”, analyzed Bruno Silveira, partner and vice-president of Imperial.
According to the businessman, the preference of bookmaker partnerships for CS:GO teams is based on the larger fan base in this modality. In addition, the modality allows brands to be inserted in uniforms and media. Fluxo’s CS:GO team decided to change its name and was renamed “Fluxo EstrelaBet” for sponsorship reasons.
“Fluxo’s CS line-up, in addition to being very strong and attractive to sponsors from different segments, is part of a tournament circuit that is open to sponsorships from bookmakers. It made sense for both Fluxo and EstrelaBet to have a partnership that went beyond a logo exposure relationship and could actually promote the partner that enabled our expansion to CS”, explained Fluxo, in a note.
EstrelaBet also supports the emulator Free Fire team. However, it is not present in the Free Fire mobile and LoL rosters, whose competitive scenarios avoid partnerships between bookmakers and teams. The brand also sponsors Los Grandes in the same sports. Mobile Free Fire teams, LoL and Rainbow Six do not have sponsorship due to the ban on bookmakers.
“We present the CS:GO competitive plan for this year to EstrelaBet. Within that, we talk about structure, calendar and objectives. In our view, the peacemaker was the best coach option available on the market and would be the signing to shine the eyes. EstrelaBet liked the sports project, bet on this contract and was instrumental in the negotiation”, explained Los Grandes partner Alexandre “kakavel”.
When he returned to compete on the CS:GO circuit in January, RED Canids Kalunga announced Rivalry’s sponsorship specifically for this team, with several activations. FURIA was sponsored by Rivalry in 2021 and Betway in 2022 and currently has Betnacional.
According to FURIA, Betnacional is a partner of all lines, but does not appear on LoL and Valorant uniforms, due to Riot Games policy, and on those of Apex Legends and Super Smash Bros., as they are games aimed at the United States public.
FURIA usually publishes, on social networks, the odds of the CS:GO team before the matches. “The game odds are data openly disclosed by the platforms and easily accessed by the public. Therefore, we see no problem in disclosing them as part of the promotion of our partnership”, said co-founder of the organization Jaime Pádua.
Imperial, however, sponsored by Sportsbet.io, does not release ODDS often. “From time to time Sportsbet.io asks us to publish odds. When this type of activity is carried out, we take great care to make it clear that it is a Sportsbet offer and Imperial is just one of its dissemination channels”, added the partner and vice president of the team.
MIBR, which is sponsored by 1xBet in the men’s and women’s CS:GO teams, stopped publishing odds. “Involvement with the company is limited to just a sponsorship quota and there is no impact or connection with the competitive part. The other types of electronic games that are part of MIBR, Free Fire, Valorant and Rainbow Six, are not sponsored by 1xBet because the company focuses only on Counter-Strike”, informed MIBR through a note to GE.
Football and betting
Esportes da Sorte sponsors Flamengo Medellin, Flamengo’s eSports division. “As in football, bookmakers and companies that support general sports have seen a lot of potential in eSports”, informed Flamengo Medellin’s advisory.
Betano, in turn, started to sponsor Black Dragons in December 2022. “It is the first esports team in the world sponsored by Betano. The brand also pays for several football teams in Portugal and Brazil, but in the esports segment, we are the pioneers”, exalted the team’s CEO, Nicolle “Cherrygums”.
One of the country’s leading eSports teams, LOUD is now supported by F12.BET, the F12 betting site. “Our sponsorship is exclusively directed to the F12.BET platform. The partnership with F12 is focused on developing new experiences for the gaming community as a whole. We want to be present in more regions of Brazil expanding our presence and structure in competitive lines”, said the co-founder of LOUD Bruno “PlayHard”.
With the ‘boom’ of sports betting, the concern with the integrity of sports competitions also increases. In April 2022, Chinese player Chen “Jay”, from LGD Gaming, was permanently banned from official LoL championships, accused of being part of a match-fixing scheme in LPL Spring 2022, China’s LoL league.
In 2021, 38 players and coaches from the LPL and developmental league, LDL, were banned following allegations of match-fixing. Also in 2021, Riot Games suspended Taiwanese player Chien “Maoan” amid Worlds, the LoL World Championship, for his association with a betting scheme.
In Free Fire, Garena prohibits the exhibition of betting brands, however, this veto may be overturned soon. “Maintaining the competitive integrity of the LBFF is extremely important to Garena and we have several protocols in place to ensure that all teams enjoy a fair and enjoyable experience. We also hope that the sponsors of the participating teams share these commitments that we defend at Garena”, said Garena in a note to GE.
Valve, the developer of CS:GO, recommends that players do not bet on circuit games. “As a professional player, team manager or event production team, it is common to have personal relationships and/or insider information about other teams and players. Because of this, we will always assume that you have access to private CS:GO related “inside information” that may give you an unfair advantage when placing a bet on any CS:GO game or match. Betting using insider information, or even the perception or suspicion of it, carries a significant risk of harming your personal brand, your team and your community and may lead to exclusion from future events.”
For PlayHard, from LOUD, the regulation of sports betting in Brazil will contribute to increase security and transparency. “LOUD acts in several ways to, as a team, guarantee the competitive integrity of the sports we participate in together with publishers and esports leagues. We have always heard about situations in recent years, where betting has generated a debate about competitive integrity in traditional sports markets, but the trend is that with the regulation of this market in Brazil, processes continue to evolve and become increasingly safe and transparent” .