Partypoker to sponsor McLaren's F1 team

Jon Pill
Posted on: May 18, 2021 10:44 PDT

Entain plc, the owner of partypoker and PartyCasino, have signed a deal with McLaren Racing. The deal will see both of the Party brands slapped on the fiberglass skins of McLaren's F1 vehicles.

The deal takes effect on May 23, 2021, at the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most iconic racing tracks in the F1 calendar. If you're watching on the day, look to the raised ring around the driver's seat where the party-brand decals will be found.

Zak Brown, who heads up McLaren Racing, was keen to emphasize that the deal was no threat to either company's customers. Both companies were not out to promote dangerous behaviors. Sports teams are often sensitive about their relationship with gambling firms for PR reasons.

"Fan entertainment is a major focus for our team and sport," Brown said. "Like McLaren Racing, Entain brands such as PartyCasino and partypoker place a high importance in providing moments of safe and responsible excitement for their customers."

Nothing says "safe" like a car that can do 200 knots on the flat, nor "responsible" like the online gambling industry.

Brown continued: "We look forward to starting our partnership with Entain from this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix and the activity we have planned together in creating moments of excitement for fans and customers."

The big prize

The Monaco Grand Prix will be a special event for the McLaren team. The company has permission from the F1 board to do a one-off color scheme. This is unusual as, usually, the F1 rules stipulate that cars must keep the same livery for a full season. The reasons for this are largely so that spectators and drivers can track who is who more easily.

The one-off scheme that McLaren has approval for will be an updated version of the famous Gulf livery worn by Steve McQueen's Porsche 917K in the movie Le Mans. Gulf Oil came on as sponsors of McLaren last July. Though the companies did have previous sponsorship deals in the 60s and 70s. But this will be the first time the blue-and-orange livery will appear on an F1 car for the first time.

And the name of an online poker site will be stamped on the protective halos on either side of the cockpit when the color scheme first appears.

"This will be McLaren’s homage to Gulf’s celebrated race car design," Brown said. "We’re enormous fans of brave and bold design, and the striking Gulf blue is among the most loved liveries in racing. It is a celebrated piece of culture which transcends the world of motorsport."

It will also be partypoker's homage to the same, whether Entain wanted it to be or not. The cars will be back to their more usual deeper blue, black, and orange color scheme in time for Bahrain on May 26.

Tarmacs to Macbooks

Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Entain, did her best to tie the technology of online poker and casinos to that of the road.

"We are immensely proud to be partnering with McLaren Racing," Nygaard-Anderson said. "A team who is synonymous with creating thrilling entertainment by constantly innovating and staying at the cutting-edge of technology. This is the same approach we take in providing moments of excitement for our customers, and we are truly excited about the opportunities we have to create new content for our PartyCasino and partypoker customers as well as bringing these great brand to new audiences."

The deal will include some McLaren-themed promos for the website. This will include casino content, a "special poker tournament" featuring McLaren driver Daniel Ricciario, and comps for behind the scenes tickets to the McLaren Technology Centre.

No gamble, no future

This certainly isn't the first time that poker and F1 have bumped up against one another. Lewis Hamilton appeared online in a GGPoker tournament last year, prompting speculation that he or the Mercedes team he drives for might be looking into a deal very like the Entain-McLaren one.

Prior to the last couple of years, F1 teams were not allowed to accept sponsorships from gambling firms. In part this came from and old fashion anti-vice philosophy. In part it is because any company that owns a sports book has a vested interest when it deals with sports teams.

These rules relaxed in 2018 and last year saw PokerStars logos appearing in f1 broadcasts in digital ad-form.

The fact that the McLaren deal is with Entain, not with Party directly also leaves open the door to negotiating wider sponsorship and promotional arms of the other Entain brands. Entain has a wide range of subsidiaries and partners including BetMGM in the U.S. and Ladbrokes, Coral, and the Gala bingo and casino brands in the U.K.

Featured image source: Twitter