After the UK Gambling Commission’s latest suspension of its license for contentious advertising methods by 1XBet, Premier League football clubs Liverpool and Chelsea have axed their sponsorship deals with Russian bookmaker.
Tottenham Hotspur were the first to take action with Liverpool and Chelsea following suite and ending their dealings with the online gambling provider. The UK gambling regulator advised all three teams that if they continued to promote a brand that was no longer permitted to provide services on the nation’s land, they could face heavy penalties and prosecution.
In August 2018, Tottenham signed a long-term contract with 1xBet under which the gambling provider became the official betting partner for Africa for the Premier League team. In July, Liverpool and Chelsea signed the company’s multi-year sponsorship deal.
All three clubs were scolded on the heels of 1xBet’s license suspension by the UK Gambling Commission. They were told by the regulator that they should reconsider their relationship with the bookmaker and that if they failed to sever connections with it, they could face prosecution and fines.
1xBet emerged on the radar screen of the UK gambling watchdog following a Sunday Times inquiry detailing questionable and likely illegal marketing methods taken by the Russian operator.
1xBet operated on the UK market under a permit held by FSB Technology (UK) Limited, its white label partner. The gambling operator has made bets on kids ‘ sports and cockfighting, according to the Sunday Times, and has been engaged in promoting a “pornhub” casino featuring topless dealers. Moreover, the news outlet created that the provider of sports gambling was one of the largest advertisers on websites that illegally stream Premier League matches. 1xBet advertisements were also discovered throughout the websites of Torrent.
The UK Gambling Commission initiated a review of the operation of the company in the UK and ordered that its local operations be suspended. Last month, FSB said it was reviewing its potential operator relationship.
1xBet said its affiliates should be blamed for the appearance of brand-related advertising materials on questionable websites. The firm also said that an inner inquiry into the matter has been launched.
News of Tottenham, Liverpool, and Chelsea dissociating from their partner following the pressure of the gambling watchdog, emerged in the midst of increasing controversy over the amount of sponsorship deals between Premier League teams and gambling companies.
Ten of the top 20 flight clubs in the United Kingdom signed such agreements ahead of the new season, worth £69 million in total.
Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said that it was “shocking” and an “absolute debacle” that all three teams “failed to do the most basic due diligence checks on 1xBet before signing up for these multimillion-pound deals.”