FIFA Women’s World Cup Bets on First Gambling Sponsor
With the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup over, attention is moving “down under” in July and August this year. The FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place during this time, with competition rife between the qualifying teams.
Making news headlines in late June, FIFA officially announced the first-ever gambling sponsor for the Women’s World Cup. Known locally as just TAB, TAB NZ is the only betting operator in the region. It allows sports betting for the estimated 520,000 gamblers in the country.
The deal between the two entities comes on the back of a similar deal stuck for the Men’s World Cup in 2022. That year, FIFA signed a sponsorship agreement with the Betano Group based in Europe. As part of the agreement, the betting operator received plenty of publicity during the event’s matches.
Likewise, one of the few known details of the agreement with TAB is advertising. The brand will have visible branding at all Women’s World Cup games. Games with the branding will occur between July 20 and August 20.
The branding will appear in the stadiums where matches will be held. However, these have been limited to those in New Zealand. While the competition is holding some games in neighboring Australia, the branding will not be shown there.
The four stadiums hosting the tournament are in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Dunedin.
Aside from the advertising of the TAB brand, there is little information about what else the deal will entail. While there are no estimates of the deal’s value, TAB is known to contribute significantly to the NZ Soccer Federation.
In 2022, the betting operator paid the federation around NZ $1.48 million. This money forms a commission paid over for sales on bets made toward soccer. The new deal between the operator and FIFA is believed to be worth substantially more.
TAB, which stands for Totalisator Agency Board, is a common betting operator in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. However, in each country, the betting behemoth is run by different sub-operators.
In Australia, the brand is operated by Tabcorp—the largest gambling entity in the country. The exception is in Western Australia, where TAB was rebranded in 2013 to TABtouch and is still state-run.
In South Africa, TAB is run by 4Racing (previously known as Phumela Gambling). It is the most significant betting operator in the country. However, it is not licensed to operate in the KwaZulu-Natal province. Here, TABgold is operated by Gold Circle Racing.
TAB NZ opened as New Zealand’s only betting operator in 1949 and was responsible for regulating all race codes in the country until it was rebranded in 2003 as the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), then the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA), and eventually reverted to its original name in 2020.
The group is familiar with deals aimed at promoting itself or sporting events. In May 2023, it signed a $545-million, 25-year deal with UK gambling operator Entain Group that will see the latter breathe new life into the NZ horse racing industry.
There is a great deal of surprise in the sporting community over the new and rather sudden deal because of recent regulatory changes. Over the last few years, sporting bodies and governments have moved away from allowing sponsorship deals with gambling organizations and casinos, claiming that such deals endorse an activity that can be harmful. This move has been seen in some of the largest sporting bodies internationally.
Since 2019, Italy’s Serie A announced they would no longer accept sponsorships from any gambling-affiliated brand. Spanish La Liga followed suit in 2021, also deciding against renewing existing sponsorships.
However, the most significant move against gambling sponsorships is still to come. At the start of the 2025–2026 season, the English Premier League is also installing new regulations. Due to these, no team shirts can have front-of-garment gambling sponsors.
This move comes as a huge blow. Eight Premier League clubs currently have front-of-shirt sponsors from within the gambling industry. These sponsorships cost over $76 million (or £60 million).
Moving further than simply not renewing deals internally, various governments have also implemented laws relating to advertising. As of this date, all Netherlands casinos and sports betting operators can no longer legally advertise within the country. Even sites like casinos.com, which simply reviews the latest online casinos, slots, and games, are affected.
The law prohibits any advertising of gambling-related brands on television, in print, and on radio. In addition to this, advertising is also prohibited in any public space.
The law is so severe that gambling advertising is banned even within casinos and other gambling spaces since these are seen as public areas and, therefore, are subject to the same laws. Other countries that have also adopted this include Belgium and Germany.
While ample proof exists that sporting bodies and governments are pulling away from gambling sponsors, FIFA has taken a bold move. Many believe their signing TAB NZ is a way to build wealth for the event before it is outlawed altogether.
Whether or not changes will come to New Zealand and other countries remains to be seen. Thankfully, for now, the FIFA Women’s World Cup can benefit from a major sponsorship.