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Premier League clubs face £90m blow in gambling crackdown

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Premier League clubs face £90m blow in gambling crackdown

  1. 1. May 6, 2014 7:51 pm Premier League clubs face £90m blow in gambling crackdown By Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent ©AFP Players of English Premier League clubs Arsenal and West Ham fight for the ball during a match in April Premier League football clubs face the loss of up to £90m of income because of a clampdown by the gambling regulator on online betting operators that use the league‟s international popularity to promote their websites to Asian audiences. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton are among a number of top clubs that have sponsorship deals with online operators that take very few bets from UK customers but benefit from the Premier League‟s popularity in Asian betting markets. One such company is Dafabet, which sponsors Aston Villa‟s shirts and also the world snooker championships that ended on Monday. Others, such as SBOBet, 188 Bet and 138.com, pay clubs for perimeter advertising at home matches, but often in Asian languages, in order to win business from people watching overseas. SBOBet has been a shirt sponsor for West Ham United, and 188 Bet had its name on the shirts of Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic when they were in the Premier League. However, this type of deal is at risk after the Gambling Commission ruled that from August it would grant UK licences only to operators that are “a British facing business and either currently transact with British consumers or have a clear business plan for doing so”.
  2. 2. The new rules are being implemented because the UK is changing how online gambling is regulated, shifting the focus from where gambling is supplied to where it happens. Among the aims are protecting players and guarding against illegal betting. Most of the companies that focus on Asia are regulated in the Isle of Man, one of a handful of offshore territories recognised by the UK as a “white-listed” gambling jurisdiction. This gives certain privileges such as allowing advertising in the UK. David Jennings, gambling analyst at Davy Research, said: “By not allowing „advertising only‟ licences, it seems inevitable that many of the Asia-facing businesses will be forced to cease marketing activity in the UK.” Bill Mummery of SBOBet said the change would lead to a “haemorrhaging” of marketing spending of between £60m and £90m on Premier League clubs by his and other companies. The Isle of Man government has been in talks with the UK regulator about the new rules for some months, but the regulator said it would not be issuing any advertising- only licences. It said: “We do not think it is right to give a Gambling Commission licence for betting to an operator that is not part of the player protection and sport integrity framework in Britain.”

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