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Unibet expects big returns from chess revival

Supporting its sponsorship of the FIDE World Chess Championship held at The College London (9-28 November), Unibet details that it will cater the most comprehensive chess markets inventory for its customers.

This August, Unibet marketing confirmed that it had become the first betting operator to sponsor a FIDE championship as Norwegian chess master Magnus Carlsen faces American challenger Fabiano Caruana over a 12-round series in London.

Magnus Carlsen, considered Norway’s leading sportsman carries a significant global following and is credited with reviving the sport of chess on a global level. Furthermore, tournament organiser FIDE is expecting the London event to surpass its viewership records to date

Updating the market, Unibet details that its FIDE Championship markets, could generate ‘a turnover higher than some FIFA World Cup 2018 matches and comparable to the Champions League final’.

Richard Öström, Country Manager for Unibet Norway says: “The interest in Chess is continuing to grow and as the leading online bookmaker in Europe, we want to be a part of and contribute to big sporting events. The odds in this highly competitive match will continue to fluctuate and this year’s World Championship showdown between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana in London will continue to establish chess as a permanent fixture in betting.”

Publishing its pre-market odds, Unibet gives Carlsen a 29/50 odds of winning the chess series with Caruana priced at 1/3.

Backing Unibet’s sponsorship, Ilya Merenzon, the CEO of World Chess, says: “The odds from the World Chess betting partner Unibet shows just how exciting this championship will be. It’s great to see the betting community from across the globe, as well as six hundred million chess fans, come together, proving that the sport is continually becoming even more popular. The tournament is the highlight of the chess calendar and millions of fans around the world will follow every move.”
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Unibet hails enthralling FIDE World Chess showdown

The unprecedented success of this November’s Fide World Chess Championship match between Norway’s Magnus Carlsen vs American Fabiano Caruana – has been branded as one of Unibet’s most successful sports sponsorships.

Following 51-hours of play featuring 12 drawn matches, FIDE’s London event has been labelled by chess aficionados as the sport’s ‘tour de force’, rivalling the all-time classic matches of Bobby Fischer Vs Boris Spassky (1972) and Anatoly Karpov vs Garry Kasparov (1985).

Going down to the wire, with the Championship decided through a ‘time-limited – tie-break’, Magnus Carlsen retains his title of FIDE World Champion for a further two-years.

Last August, Unibet marketing raised eyebrows announcing that it had become the first betting partner for FIDE’s World Championship event, as sports betting rivals raced to secure football partnerships, following World Cup Russia 2018.

Backing the sponsorship, Unibet marketing stated that it was confident that the London showdown would ‘establish chess as a permanent fixture for betting’.

Furthermore, seeking to engage with chess’ unique audiences, Unibet supported its sponsorship by developing the most comprehensive betting market for the sport featuring markets such as first move, next move, game points and winner.

Backing an unknown horse, Unibet’s comprehensive efforts paid-off, with FIDE’s World Championship securing November’s highest sports coverage, through digital mediums.

In addition, drawing in daily global press coverage, Carlsen vs Caruana would garner front-page headlines, with the event being described as a ‘chess grand opus’ and ‘being trapped in a glass cage of emotions’.

Anthony Cousins Head of Sportsbook Commercial Relations at Kindred Group comments on the FIDE sponsorship:

“When Magnus Carlsen retained his World Title in 2016 we saw a record amount of turnover for a Chess competition. That competition went to a tiebreak and with that repeated this year, we are once again on track for some record-breaking figures which have been boosted thanks to our sponsorship.

This has been another successful Chess sponsorship for Unibet on an event with excellent exposure which strengthens our brand across our global markets. “
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Unibet plays strategic hand sponsoring IHF World Championship

Stockholm-listed Kindred Group Plc ’s flagship sportsbook brand Unibet has confirmed that it has become the official sponsor of the handball’s ‘IHF World Championship’ hosted in Germany and Denmark (10-28 January 2019).

Unibet announces its first sponsorship of the year, securing event sponsorship coverage and logo rights with the International Handball Federation (IHF).

“The tournament will see 24 teams compete in what is becoming one of the most popular sports internationally, attracting great interest from the betting community. Handball is the third biggest sport on Unibet’s offering, trailing only football and tennis” details Unibet in its media update.

Confirming the IHF sponsorship Rhodri Darch, Chief Commercial Officer at Kindred Group detailed that the partnership was a strong strategic fit for Unibet expanding European profile.

The pan-European sportsbook has previously sponsored handball’s 2017 Women World Championship in Germany as well as the sport’s European Championships in 2015 and 2018.

“We have a leading offering on handball among bookmakers and saw an impressive interest during the Olympics 2016 in terms of turnover and actives. Since then, we have invested in our exposure in the sport with the European and World Championship for both men and women being the highlights”, says Rhodri Darch, Chief Commercial Officer at Kindred.

Publishing its IHF World Championship markets, Unibet has priced co-hosts Denmark (3.25) as favourites to win the tournament with France close behind (3.50).

Backing Unibet as lead sponsor, Robert Müller von Vultejus, Managing Director Lagardère Sports Germany, says:

“We are delighted to have won Unibet as the official sponsor for the IHF World Championship 2019. The partnership secures Unibet the maximum attention for its sponsoring and the various activation possibilities offer the brand the chance to address millions of handball fans worldwide.”
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Unibet ‘chess proposition’ triggers Norway drama

A potential tie-up between Norges Sjakkforbund (NSF) – Norway’s Chess Federation – and online bookmaker Unibet may turn into a political showdown for multiple national stakeholders.

Norwegian media reports that NSF has been approached by Kindred Group Plc’s flagship sportsbook property Unibet, offering the federation a NOK 50 million (€5m) partnership – Norwegian Chess’ biggest ever sponsorship.

Reacting to the news, NSF has been ordered by TV 2 (Egmont Group) to reject the ‘controversial proposal’, as the broadcaster seeks to bring the 2020 Chess World Cup to the South Western city of Stavanger.

Working alongside Norway’s Ministry of Culture, TV 2 governance is reported to be preparing its Stavanger 2020 bid, seeking to host Norway’s biggest ever chess event and further cashing-in on the popularity of Chess Grand Master Magnus Carlsen.

A potential NSF-Unibet partnership will likely jeopardize TV 2’s bid, as Norway has outlawed the promotion of ‘foreign unlicensed operators’ by national media incumbents.

Nevertheless, Norway’s vague laws on marketing have allowed Unibet to approach NSF, with a sponsorship offer that is reported to be twice the value of TV 2’s World Cup offering.

Kjell Madland, Chairman of NSF, has stated that the federation notes media and political concerns, but that Unibet’s significant proposal will be reviewed in the interest of Norwegian Chess development.

Should NSF move forward with Unibet’s offer, it will likely come head-to-head with gambling regulator Lottstift, during a period in which it has enforced its ‘toughest stance on restricting remote gambling operators’.

Unibet is prepared to undertake Chess’ biggest sponsorship to date, with the online bookmaker highlighting the success of its lead sponsorship of the 2018 FIDE World Chess Championship in London between Magnus Carlsen vs American Fabiano Caruana.

An epic encounter featuring 51-hours of play across 12 drawn matches, Carlsen Vs Caruana drew worldwide audiences, with Unibet stating to SBC that the FIDE Championship had been one of its ‘most successful sponsorships ever‘.

Speaking to national media, Trine Skei Grande – Norway’s Minister of Equality & Culture – detailed that his department would not seek to influence NSF decision with regards to partnering with Unibet, but warned that NSF events could be restricted in promotion as Norwegian Chess’ governing body is a subordinate of the Norway Sports Federation.
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HockeyAllsvenskan sponsorship sees Unibet continue Swedish sports mission

Kindred Group Plc’s flagship sports betting brand Unibet has stated its ongoing commitment to ‘investing in Swedish sports’, confirming that it has become ‘main sponsor’ of the HockeyAllsvenskan league.

HockeyAllsvenskan represents the second highest level of Swedish professional ice hockey, maintaining a 14-club league with an audience of ‘over one million people’.

Mirroring Unibet’s ‘record-breaking’ sponsorship of Swedish football’s Elitfotboll leagues (deal announced June 2018), Unibet replaces state-owned Svenska Spel as lead HockeyAllsvenskan sponsor.

Swedish media reports that Unibet has secured a two-year title sponsorship agreement worth SEK 25 million (€2.5 million), significantly outmatching Svenska Spel’s previous SEK 8 million-per-year arrangement with HockeyAllsvenskan.

Furthermore, Unibet has guaranteed HockeyAllsvenskan a further SEK 3 million per season, which will be allocated to league CSR projects and corporate initiatives.

“HockeyAllsvenskan is the Swedish people’s league – and this is something we recognize very much with. We know the genuine commitment and struggle that lies behind the league’s success. Now we want to contribute to raising the economic and sporting conditions for Hockeyallsvenskan.”

Unibet has for 20 years been striving to have the opportunity to contribute to the development of Swedish sports. We are proud and happy to be Hockeyallsvenskan’s main sponsor, ”detailed Dersim Sylwan, General Manager Sweden for Kindred Group to Swedish media.

In its partnership statement, Kindred underlines that Hockeyallsvenskan continues its guiding mandate of supporting Swedish sports through responsible marketing, seeking to develop partnerships which benefit all levels and Swedish sports and its civic stakeholders.

Gabriel Niklasson, commercial lead at HockeyAllsvenskan – “We look forward to working with Unibet to develop a sustainable, open and inclusive hockey experience that creates more emotions for our fans. Above all, for all our supporters and our audience who are the most important to us. The collaboration makes us all stronger and will, in the short and long term, make Hockey Allsvenskan and the clubs better”.
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Club Brugge selects Unibet as ‘fair play’ betting partner

Kindred Group’s flagship European sportsbook property Unibet has upgraded its sponsorship of Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge, becoming official shirt sponsor for season 2019/20.

Belgian sports media reports that the ‘Blauw-Zwart’ has secured a ‘club record sponsorship’, as Unibet migrates its brand position to the front of Brugge match shirts, having previously served as ‘sleeve sponsor’.

Updating the media, Club Brugge officials stated that they confidence in Unibet as a Gaming Commission licensed bookmaker to act as ‘forerunner in responsible gaming’.

Club officials further disclosed that ‘for several years’, Club Brugge has been approached to form a number betting partnerships – “The choice for Unibet was therefore one that we consciously made.”

Club Brugge details that Unibet has committed to upholding the team’s social responsibility directive – No Heart…No Glory, which will see the bookmaker support a fair play commitment and Club Brugge social/charity programmes.

Unibet sponsors the ‘Big 3’ football team, as the Belgium government demands that the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) uphold a ‘joint party decree’ enforcing a tougher advertising code on licensed gambling operators.

Approved as a Royal Decree, from 1 June, the BGC has enforced an outright ban on advertising of betting services during sports/media broadcasts.
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Norwegian Chess Federation forgoes Unibet’s ‘controversial proposal’

On Sunday night, the governance of the Norwegian Chess Federation Congress (NSF) voted against the ‘cooperation deal’ proposed by Kindred Group Plc flagship subsidiary Unibet.

This June, Unibet marketing had propositioned a five-year principal sponsorship deal of the NSF, valued at NOK 50 million (€5m), representing Norwegian Chess’ biggest ever sponsorship.

Lottstift, Norway’s national gambling regulator, would warn NSF governance ‘to consider the consequences’ of partnering with an unlicensed gambling firm.

Furthermore, the NSF would face further pressure from Norway’s Ministry of Culture and broadcaster TV2 (Egmont Group) to reject the ‘controversial proposal’, as NSF forms part of a collective seeking to win the rights to host the ‘2020 Chess World Cup’ in the city of Stavanger.

Seeking legal advice, the NSF would detail to its stakeholders that it would make a formal decision on whether to proceed with Unibet sponsorship this July.

This Sunday, Kindred Group issued a formal statement, confirming that NSF would forgo its sponsorship, with the Stockholm-listed enterprise stating that it ‘respects the decision taken by the Chess Congress’.

”We want to commend the board of the Norwegian Chess Federation for being extremely strong through a demanding exchange of opinions leading up to this Sunday’s Congress. The same leadership have, through the 11-month process leading to the final deal proposal, impressed us through their inquisitive and responsive approach, and clear and challenging dialogue with us as a potential partner. The members of the federation have now made a choice, and that choice deserves respect,” detailed Rolf Sims, Public Affairs Manager of Kindred Group.

The online gambling group states that the debate surrounding its proposition, shows a ‘a great care for chess’ in Norway, whilst further highlighting the ‘positive and negative sides about the current monopoly and a licensing model’.

Concluding its Norwegian update, Kindred Group stated that it would continue ‘working towards allowing sports, volunteer work and other associations not supported by the current monopoly model the possibility of better financing opportunities.’

“We will continue tirelessly in our daily work towards an alternative gambling model in Norway. Such a model would benefit everyone in a better way than the current monopoly system, where half of all online gamblers fall outside of the pervue of the Norwegian government, and where a large part of Norwegian sports, culture and volunteer work are not supported by the gambling funds collected by the Norwegian government” – Kindred Group detailed in its statement.
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