Football fans might have noticed Hisense billboards featured in all the UEFA EURO 2016 matches. The Chinese electronic giant joined other top brands, including Adidas, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Continental, Hyundai-Kia, McDonald’s, Orange, SOCAR and Turkish Airlines, as a partner of the EURO 2016 tournament.[i] Although the official sponsorship fee has not been disclosed, Hisense is said to have invested a sum of 370 million yuan to appear in this European soccer event. Despite the fact that this amount corresponds to 25% of the company’s 2015 net profit, the board was confident to recoup the investment after only the group stage of the tournament.[ii]
The Communist government in China has long had an uncomfortable relationship with gambling, but the mounting interest in sports betting may make the country’s leaders rethink some of its policies. Gambling has been outlawed since the establishment of the “new China” by Mao Zedong. Despite the government’s effort to quash nearly all forms of wagering, people’s love for gambling only seems to grow as the average income rises. Lately, this trend has been aided by President Xi Jinping’s promotion of the sports industry, especially in the sport of soccer. During the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, police seized tens of millions of dollars and arrested over 500 people in crackdowns on illegal gambling operations.