Mariano Zabaleta: “In regulated markets, the synergy between the worlds of sports and betting is very positive”

In an exclusive interview with Yogonet, Mariano Zabaleta, Vice-President of the Argentine Tennis Association (AAT), assured that the union of sport and the world of sports betting offers financing possibilities for tournaments and athletes, which collaborates with the development of the activity in a direct way.

In addition, he considered that “this works when countries have the betting issue regularized,” and “a control over a lot of potentially adverse situations, sometimes related to bookmakers.”

How do you see, as one of the people in charge of the Argentine Tennis Association this new reality in which sports betting is getting closer to traditional sports, and how can they work together for a better development of the sport?

I think this market has always been close, because sport in general, in the world, receives sponsorship from bookmakers.

Not long ago, Novak Djokovic pointed out that we have to take the drama out of the issue and come to a good conclusion, because there are a lot of tennis tournaments that are sponsored by these bookmakers, and this allows the players themselves to receive some of all that money that moves behind the world of tennis.

I think the synergy between both worlds (sports and betting) is positive. For tennis to continue to grow and develop, it always needs industries that can provide money for sponsorship.

Novak Djokovic

Concerning Latin America, in the last two or three years the world of sports betting has grown a lot, at least compared to what we see in Europe, which has been developing for more years. In Argentina, how did this synergy with bookmakers come about, and how can Argentine tennis take advantage of this new financing alternative?

This works when countries have the betting issue regularized. And by regularized, I mean that there is control over a lot of potentially adverse situations, sometimes related to bookmakers.

When a market is regulated the situation is different. And when we, as an Association, have a regulated brand, obviously I agree that there should be sponsorship in the sport, or in any other area, so that the development of tennis can be sustained. 

We are countries that have nothing to spare, and this alternative allows us to have access to much-needed sponsorship.

I agree with entities such as the AFA (Argentine Football Association) or field hockey, for example, having this kind of openness, or tennis, with 90% of its tournaments sponsored by bookmakers.

Did you face much resistance from the sport itself to open up to the world of betting? Because there are always sectors that are openly opposed to this world of betting, without knowing the level of control that the Associations have over this type of things. Did you receive any resistance from the sportsmen, or was this possibility of working together with a bookmaker well taken?

The issue has always been well taken, because today 90% of tennis tournaments are sponsored by bookmakers, and players receive indirectly the resources generated by sponsorship.

It is all in the same system, but obviously, the issue must be properly regulated and controlled: there must be education and avoid a lot of adverse situations, for which people must be educated, and that is what we are in charge of.

We should not be hypocritical about the possibilities that betting brings, because if it works for 90% of the players in tennis tournaments, we should let the players have access to these benefits as well.