I did my dissertation back in 1999 on the future of advertising and promotions in the tobacco industry. During that time I read a lot of articles saying that the future of many professional sports would be put in great doubt without the sponsorship money from the tobacco companies. I always remember one "expert" saying snooker would be fine because they could easily draw sponsorship from the likes of Armani because of their clothing! I never saw that working because when you sponsor something you are really targeting the supporters/viewers and the crowd at the Crucible Theater were probably not Armani's target clientele. (And I am sure they were also not targeting darts fans - a sport who also relied heavily on tobacco sponsorship.)
Armani never came good so it looked like that was it for some sports - but, the world changed (as it always does) and along came a thing called the internet and with it "online gambling". Now there is no looking back and the sports that previously relied on tobacco cash go from strength to strength.
In a few years time, the "smart" folk who tell us what is right and wrong will no doubt ban gambling companies from advertising and promoting and everyone will worry once more that sports will be the casualties. However, as happened before, there is always a new industry to take up the sponsorship. If you know now what that next industry will be, sure you will be a billionaire.
William Hill are delighted to announce they have signed an initial two-year deal with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) to sponsor the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace in London.