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NFTs and the future of fan engagement: How NFTs can boost engagement with sports brands

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NFTs and the future of fan engagement: How NFTs can boost engagement with sports brands
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By: Evgeniy Babitsyn, Chief Marketing Officer, Bets.io

The sport industry finds itself amidst its own digital transformation journey with the introduction of new technologies, and at the forefront of this digital shift are NFTs – otherwise known as Non-Fungible Tokens.

NFTs can represent any kind of digital item, and in recent years have commonly been used for quirky collectibles and art work – but they now enter the sports arena in a unique way. The beauty of NFTs is the unique metadata and ownership information which is tracked via blockchain, making them a one-of-a-kind digital collectible that cannot be duplicated. As a result of their collectible nature, it’s only natural that NFTs caught the eyes of eager sports enthusiasts and die-hard fans.

In fact, according to Deloitte research, around 40% of Gen Z and millennial sports fans are at least somewhat familiar with the use of NFTs and fan tokens in sports.

But why is that? And how can they boost engagement?

NFTs are rapidly emerging as a powerful tool for sports brands in driving deeper fan engagement and unlocking new revenue streams. This is because sports fans are, by nature, competitive and eager to own exclusive content from their much loved players, teams and brands. They want to be part of the action.

By playing on this feeling, and reinforcing loyalty among fans in this way, sports brands have a huge opportunity to take their revenue streams to new heights and gain a competitive advantage over other brands.

Imagine an athlete releases a limited-edition NFT that represents the most iconic moment in their career, such as the winning shot or a record breaking performance. Fans who own that NFT can then access exclusive content related to that moment including behind-the-scenes footage or interviews.

There really is no limit to these tokens, and depending on the asset, they can be much sought after. As more and more sports fans embrace the digital tokens, sports brands are quickly learning that there is huge potential for fan engagement, if they continue to innovate with this technology.

 

Taking collectibles to the 21st Century

Sports memorabilia and collectibles have for centuries been a way for fans to feel more connected to their favourite teams and athletes. And now thanks to the advances of technology – more specifically, blockchain technology – fans can collect within the digital realm, gaining access to truly “own” unique digital items and experiences.

Beyond just digital art or collectibles, NFTs can also integrate the idea of gamification, exclusive content and experiences into their NFTs – allowing fans to engage more actively while unlocking new revenue opportunities.

The possibilities are endless, extending far beyond just digital collectibles. They can provide fans with access to exclusive digital or in-person experiences, events and merch as well. Think front row seats or the chance for a meet and greet post-game.

With this, NFTs provide an excellent way for brands to diversify their revenue streams by monetising their content and intellectual property strategically.

It really is win-win, fans can own a piece of their favourite team’s history while supporting their team financially. And sports brands can benefit from more loyal fans.

 

Transforming the fan experience

Engagement is everything to sports brands. After all, the fans are really the most important stakeholders in the end. And offering NFTs can be a powerful tool in fostering deeper engagement within fan communities. NFTs provide more innovative ways for fans to connect, prove their loyalty and gain recognition for their allegiance.

Let’s look at NBA Top Shot. NBA Top Shot is the perfect example of a blockchain-based platform that allows fans to own and collect officially licensed NBA collectibles digitally. The platform offers exclusive collectibles including videos of the biggest NBA moments and highlights.

And football teams are also following suit. Manchester City, PSG, FC Barcelona have all joined in on the NFT hype – offering their own NFT collections for keen supporters such as worn jerseys, trophies and more.

 

Sports Betting and NFTs

And when it comes to sports betting, NFTs take the iGaming experience to the next level. Fans can purchase NFTs that represent specific bets, such as the winner of a particular game or the performance of a specific player. These NFTs can then be traded or sold, just like other NFTs, providing a new level of flexibility and excitement for betting.

The use of NFTs in the sports industry is still in its early stages, but has already shown great potential. We can expect more applications to come in the world of sports – including at Bets.io. Watch this space.

Looking ahead, the future is incredibly promising for sports brands who leverage NFTs within their business operations. Those who embrace these new powerful ways to inspire fans and forge deeper relationships with their communities, will see their efforts translate into business value.

Latest News

Southampton Football Club announces Rollbit as its Front-of-Shirt Partner

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Southampton Football Club has announced that Rollbit, an innovator in the world of online gaming and entertainment, has become its official Front-of-Shirt Partner.

The partnership will see Rollbit’s logo front and centre of the Men’s First Team shirts and they will have visibility around St Mary’s through LED advertising and hospitality.

Launched in 2020, Rollbit is making huge strides in the online gaming, esports and entertainment space. Through their platform, Rollbit blends entertainment with investment in an innovative way, including the creation of digital gaming spaces for its users to explore.

The company has grown to have a huge global presence, with recent partnerships including the likes of Serie A giants Napoli and with the world’s most subscribed esports gaming team, FaZe Clan, who have over 8.5million subscribers on YouTube alone.

Southampton Football Club becomes Rollbit’s first partner within the Premier League, bringing together two organisations that share a commitment to innovation and delivering great experiences for their respective audiences.

Greg Baker, Chief Revenue Officer for Southampton Football Club said: “We’re pleased to welcome Rollbit, a leader in the online gaming space, into the Saints family as our official Front-of-Shirt Partner. This partnership marks a dynamic fusion of technology and sport, at an exciting time for the club as we embark on our journey back in the Premier League. Together, we look forward to creating unforgettable moments for our fans.”

Sam Norman, Head of Partnerships for Rollbit said: “Rollbit is delighted to announce its latest partnership with Southampton FC following on from their incredible win in the playoff final. We feel Southampton is the perfect club to embark on this journey with as we look to continue to expand our presence globally with one of the Premier League’s most respected teams. We believe in the vision of the club that embodies our commitment to innovation and excellence and look forward to cheering on with Saints fans everywhere in this exciting next chapter for Southampton.”

 

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Compliance Updates

Amid Public Outcry, Montenegro’s Anti – Digital Gambling Law Set for August Revisions

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In January 2024, Montenegro enacted amendments to its gambling laws that effectively ban the use of modern electronic payment methods, including Apple Pay, PayPal, mobile banking, IPS, and e-banking. This move has raised eyebrows across the global financial community, including the European betting and iGaming sectors.

Public Outcry and Anticipated Changes Expected in August

The controversial ban led to significant public outcry and industry backlash. In response, a new version of the law is allegedly expected in August, yet remains to be seen whether it will address some of these concerns.

The Montenegro EU Paradox

Ironically, a few months ago, the case gained media focus and went viral after the Minister of Finance stated that the country has no obligation to comply with EU rules. This paradoxical stance is surprising for a nation actively seeking EU membership and aiming to integrate into the digital business world.

Historical Context

In 2021, the European Commission urged Montenegro to strengthen its efforts to counter money laundering. However, the January 2024 amendments seem to move in the opposite direction, potentially isolating the country from EU practices and global financial community trends.

Industry Response

Since the beginning of 2024, Montenegro’s gambling sector has been in turmoil. The amendments, which force bettors to use cash or specific terminals for transactions, have caused significant inconvenience. This has led to business disruptions and investor uncertainty.

The industry has responded strongly against these changes. A petition to halt the amendments received 25,000 signatures in just five days. Montenegro Bet, the country’s trade association, has submitted the petition to the assembly and initiated a constitutional review. They are also engaging with international institutions to highlight the negative impacts of the law changes.

Massive Lawsuits Ahead

Multiple operators are preparing legal action, including a lawsuit before the International Court for Settlement of Investment Disputes, due to the apparent corruptive practices and unequal market access facilitated by the new law.

Looking Ahead

As August approaches, the industry and public are hopeful for revisions to the law that will align Montenegro with EU standards and global financial trends. The prohibition of safe and advanced online payment methods, in favor of promoting cash transactions, remains a troubling development that demands urgent attention and action.

 

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eSports

Oddin.gg fuels Dafabet with its esports odds feed and a variety of fast betting content including eCricket

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Oddin.gg is proud to announce its new partnership with Dafabet, a globally recognized platform and online betting powerhouse with global reach. Oddin.gg’s awarded odds feed has further improved the offer of one of the world’s biggest online bookmakers.

Dafabet stands out as one of the premier online betting platforms, boasting a vast, worldwide user base and a top-quality selection of offerings. With the integration of Oddin.gg’s comprehensive suite of esports products, Dafabet will enhance its esports betting experience for bettors by providing creative, esports-only markets and superior betting odds.

Leveraging Oddin.gg’s cutting-edge odds feed, known for its reliability, industry-leading uptime, and profitability, Dafabet will offer an enriched betting experience. The Dafa Sports betting site will also feature Oddin.gg’s fast betting content, including eFootball, eBasketball, and a unique eCricket.

Additionally, it will introduce a globally unique Counter Strike 2, 1 on 1 format and both male and female versions of a fast-paced table tennis betting product.

By incorporating Oddin.gg’s advanced technology, Dafabet will expand its esports markets, offering a broader range of options to its users regardless of their preferred platform: desktop, Android, iOS. This integration not only enriches Dafabet’s esports portfolio but also sets a new industry standard, combining Dafabet’s robust betting infrastructure with Oddin.gg’s expertise in esports betting.

James Barnfather, Head of Sports at Dafabet, comments: “With the esports industry skyrocketing, a trend we’ve already observed in our sportsbook, we recognized the need to supercharge our offerings to match market demand. Choosing Oddin.gg was an easy choice due to their unparalleled expertise and ideal product suite for our needs. This new alliance with Oddin.gg empowers us to intensify our commitment to esports betting globally. We have been eagerly anticipating the launch of these enhanced features for our players. On top of it, we see great potential in a 24/7 eCricket solution in line with growing appetite for cricket betting, yet lacking enough content such as football. The product is a perfect solution to fill the gaps. On the integration side, we have collaborated with various partners, and the feedback on Oddin’s integration has been overwhelmingly positive. Our team rates it as one of the best experiences, noting the prompt and precise responses.

Marek Suchar, Managing Director and Co-founder at Oddin.gg, explained why he is enthusiastic about the partnership: “We are really excited about this partnership with such a strong and well-known traditional brand. We admire the top expertise of Dafabet’s team combined with the massive community impact they have with their sponsorships. We feel honored to bring the most engaging esports betting experience to all Dafabet’s clients globally. Dafabet is also renowned for their commitment to responsible gaming and integrity which is in line with our long-term vision for the esports industry.”

 

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