Connacht Rugby February 2014Connacht Rugby have become the first of the Irish provinces to sign up an official betting partner.  Bragbet, a Dublin based social betting site backed initially by O2 as part of its Wayra programme, will be the partner and they kicked off their involvement last weekend with a free bet offer on Connacht against Zebre in the Heineken Cup.

Connacht were heavy favourites to win the match but Bragbet was offering a free €25 bet at odds of even money which resulted in a positive balance on those who signed up of €25 for no risk after Pat Lam’s side came through with the win.

In 2013 Bragbet signed up as the official betting partner of the FAI, a role which Boylesports had previously held.  Boylesports is a partner of Bragbet in terms of providing the betting back engine to its offering of enabling groups of friends come together and bet as a mini syndicate against a bookie but also to secure bragging rights themselves within their group for giving the best advice.
“We are proud to be associated with Connacht Rugby and wanted to start the relationship with a bit of a bang,” said Bragbet CEO Phil Riordan.
“Fair play to the lads at BragBet,” added Alex Sole, Commercial Manager at Connacht Rugby.  “They don’t believe in doing things in half measures and this was a great promotion for all Connacht fans to support the team and have a free flutter at the same time.”

Paddy Power is the official betting partner of the IRFU but rugby has not been one of the main mediums for betting in the online environment.  It accounts for between one and two per cent of sports betting activity and runs a long way behind sports like horse racing and soccer which dominate but also behind Golf and Tennis where the ability to bet in play on a wide number of markets has lifted their profile on the major sites.

No details have been published on whether the deal is based on a share of revenue or whether there are additional payments to the province.  None of Leinster, Munster or Ulster have indicated that they are likely to quickly follow suit.

Gloucester Rugby Club in England signed up another local betting partner and will be integrating the service within the club’s online service this month but there is no official betting partner of either the Heineken Cup or the Aviva Premiership.