The relationship between gambling companies and football teams has come under further scrutiny recently after the UK Gambling Commission completed a report that suspended the licence of provider 1XBet. At the time of suspension, they were sponsoring three of the biggest football clubs in the Premier League, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea, bringing into question what if any due diligence these clubs did on the betting company before signing up to big sponsorship deals with them.
Since the report has been published, and 1XBet lost their license for the time being, all three clubs have pulled out of their deals with them. Tottenham did this almost immediately after the news was given, while both Chelsea and Liverpool followed suit at a later date and cancelled their deals too.
After announcing the decision to suspend their license, the UK Gambling Commission also spoke with the three clubs to tell them that they could be fined if they continued to promote a brand that was no longer authorised to provide gambling services in the country. This didn’t happen as all three clubs pulled out of their deals in time. Tottenham had been with 1XBet for just over one year after signing a deal with them in August of 2018, while Chelsea and Liverpool were both signed up in July 2019, so had only just started their deal.
The reason why 1XBet were investigated originally was due to their advertising. This was found out by a report in the Sunday Times newspaper, which suggested that the Russian bookmaker took part in illegal marketing practices, and showed evidence of that happening.
It was reported that 1XBet took part in numerous advertising campaigns on websites which featured the illegal streaming of Premier League games. They have also been linked to the PornHub Casino, a casino that has topless dealers and XXX games as part of their service. Links to the 1XBet website were also found on many illegal torrent websites, something else that is against the UK Gambling Commission code of practice.
When speaking about the situation, 1XBet said that those advertisements were not internal advertisements and that their affiliate partners were to blame for them. They did, however, agree to an internal investigation to work out where the advertisements were generated.
The suspension of 1XBet’s UK license and their ties with three of the biggest football teams in England has cast the spotlight on the relationship between gambling companies and football teams once again.
Exactly half of the Premier League teams, 10 out of 20, have signed gambling-related sponsorship deals with companies for this season. These are not simple sponsorship deals, but ones where a gambling company is the official betting partner of that club, either in general or for a certain area of the world. For example, 1XBet was Tottenham’s official betting partner for Africa.
Anyone who tackles the clubs on these deals and tries to crack down on them is likely to face stiff competition though. The 10 deals in place for the new season are worth a combined £69 million, and with the gambling market continuing to prove lucrative and extremely competitive, these kinds of deals are only likely to continue, and also go up in price.
One thing we could see implemented in the future is rules on how clubs should approach these deals and the kinds of checks that should be made on the companies they are potentially getting into bed with.
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