Riot Games Allowing Sports Betting Sponsorship: Confusion Reigns

Published: Mar 16, 2023

For many years now, Riot Games, owners of the League of Legends and Valorant games have not allowed alcohol companies, sports betting sites or crypto investment/exchanges to be sponsors of their franchised teams.

But after a tumultuous day earlier this week, could that have all changed?

It is fair to say that at the moment, there are somewhat contradictory rumours swirling around whether you could see teams at the top Valorant or LoL tournaments sponsored by betting sites or similar in the future.

So what has changed and why did everything develop into a state of flux this week?

riot games valorant betting sponsors rumour

Image credit: Riot Games

Esports “Middle Class” Suffering

While the highest level of esports gaming remains in sound health, there is no doubt that a number of factors such as the pandemic, the worldwide global financial downturn and much tougher economic and social conditions have meant that mid to lower level esports has taken a battering of late.

With many tournaments and esports teams struggling to make ends meet, or operating as a loss-making part of a larger organisation, there is a need to try and secure additional funding to ensure that this developmental level of esports remains viable.

Under these tough economic conditions, teams and organisations have found it hard to find financing from the private sector and it is not surprising perhaps that their eyes may have turned to the markets previously deemed off-limits by Riot Games, such as Valorant betting sites.

Turkish News Outlet Report

Then earlier this week, Esporkolik, a Turkish esports news outlet, stated that their sources indicated that Riot Games were considering allowing its partnered organisations to be sponsored by betting companies.

This is a marked change, especially for the VALORANT community, where its VALORANT Champions Tour Global Competition Policy from 2021, states clearly that teams cannot promote gambling sponsors, fantasy esports, alcoholic products, cryptocurrency platforms and other unregulated financial businesses.

Several VALORANT fans expressed their concern, many pointing out that the esport has a particularly young user base and that by allowing sports betting services to sponsor teams, it could put the integrity of certain games and tournaments at risk.

Many media outlets went big on the story, stating that the tough financial climate has made companies like Riot examine their own rules and regulations in terms of sponsorship.

Or had it? Because just a few hours later, Riot issued their own response.

Reading the Riot Act

After the furore following the Turkish news announcement, Riot announced its own statement which stated that the regulations were NOT going to change…or at least for the time being.

Riot stated that there has been “no change” to the current policy regarding who can sponsor teams and who cannot, but perhaps tellingly, the company also added something of a caveat stating:

“We will continue to evaluate all opportunities that deliver safe, secure and meaningful experiences that best support the growth of our sports ecosystem globally.”

That statement leaves the door open to future changes to who can and cannot sponsor teams in any Riot title, although most of the focus has been on VALORANT.

Will It Happen?

In our view, whether or not VALORANT will accept sports betting sponsorship depends less on a softening of stance from Riot Games, but more on how the global economic conditions improve or deteriorate over the short and medium term.

Teams and esports companies do not want to run at a loss. They cannot afford to and in truth, Riot cannot afford them to either.

And there is no doubt that the best VALORANT teams would pick up sports betting sponsorship incredibly easily, which would help plug the financial hole in the industry.

The question is, how far are Riot prepared to disregard their principles, to bring in some much-needed financial support to the esports industry?

Ian John

Since: August 10, 2015

Ian is a regular contributor to EsportsBets. Ian is well-versed in the world of esports betting and casino gaming and has written extensively on the online gambling industry. Ian brings fresh insight into all facets of gaming.

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