The growth of darts since the turn of the millennium has been staggering. From a sport that was fading from the public’s consciousness to a multi-million-pound industry, the sport is bigger and better than ever.

Indeed, at the start of 2018, this fact was highlighted once again thanks to the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). Continuing its mission to create a truly global brand, the PDC announced the launch of an Asian Tour. Kicking off back in March with an event in Seoul, Korea, the PDC Asian Tour is set to host events in Macau, Taipei and across mainland China in the coming months.

Darts Has Become a Truly Global Sport

Of course, Asia has always been a hotbed for darts of the electronic variety. However, with players like Singapore’s Paul Lim playing alongside Michael Van Gerwen et al, PDC Chairman Barry Hearn believes steel-tip darts can become a hit.

“The potential for darts across Asia is huge, and this new tour will provide vital experience for players in addition to the exposure they are currently receiving to PDC events,” Hearn told Sky Sports News back in January 2018.

Without question, darts is on the up. What might not be so obvious is how the sport got to this point. In reality, there are plenty of reasons. The PDC and the vision of its founders have clearly been a huge driving force. That’s not up for debate. However, when you peer beneath the surface, sponsors have played more than a small part in the evolution of darts. Whenever you see the game’s top players take to the oche, they’ll often be sporting patches from a variety of companies

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

The Birth of a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Unsurprisingly, darts brands such as Unicorn and Winmau have found their way into the mix. However, their branding pales in comparison to that of betting companies. From the PDC to the British Darts Organisation (BDO), names such as William Hill, Unibet and Ladbrokes are all on display.

Although the amount of money betting companies has ploughed into the sport over the last decade is unknown, we do know it has been significant. Indeed, when you consider that Van Gerwen has earned more than £4 million from darts in recent years, it’s clear there’s money in the game.

Naturally, for gambling brands to put money into darts, they need to have money of their own. Interestingly, the rise of online betting has followed the rise of the sport. From a handful of rudimentary sites in the late nineties, the industry is now brimming with options. Indeed, you only have to see any list of top-rated operators to understand how buoyant the industry is. From deposit bonuses worth thousands to free bets are more, companies like LeoVegas and 888 are more than capable of spending money to make money.

After finding a natural partner in the gambling industry, darts has embraced this idea and that’s helped it grow beyond all expectations. Of course, betting companies don’t define the sport. However, they have helped it grow to a point where other industries are now taking it seriously and players can become millionaires with a well-placed arrow.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Author: Pieter