Contracts with Liverpool and Chelsea FC severed
Two English Premier League soccer clubs have severed sponsorship ties with 1xBet, the Russian-owned gambling company that recently had its license suspended in the UK.
both clubs faced being prosecuted for unlawful advertising under the Gambling Act
Liverpool and Chelsea FC, both based in the UK, were written to last month by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) over their connection to 1xBet. The commission went on to advise that both clubs faced being prosecuted for unlawful advertising under the Gambling Act.
This would mean that any logos or promotions either club displayed would be classed as a breach and could lead to a hefty fine.
The two soccer teams only announced their recent sponsorship deals with 1xBet in summer 2019. Since the firm was suspended, all mentions of their relationship have been removed from both clubs’ websites.
The news comes one week after soccer club Tottenham Hotspur also broke off its partnership with 1xBet.
Exposed after illegal advertisements
1xBet was exposed by a British newspaper, which found that the company was advertising on websites banned by the UKGC. Sites included ones showing pornography and encouraging bets on cockfighting and children’s sports.
The Cyprus-based gambling firm is now working with the UK regulator to have its license reinstated. It maintains it did not know about the illegal advertising and is taking steps to remedy the situation. The operator has temporarily halted all advertising in the UK.
Labour Party calls for gambling ads ban
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has long campaigned for a crackdown on advertisements within the soccer industry. He has called on England’s Football Association (FA) to ban all use of players and managers in gambling averts.
He told The Mail on Sunday that, in view of the alarming levels of gambling addiction in the UK,
it’s time to make rules about gambling adverts and sponsorships much tighter.”
Company also in hot water in Kenya
1xBet is also facing investigation overseas. Its license was suspended in Kenya earlier this year after the government criticized gambling firms for being responsible for an epidemic in youth gambling.
Despite the ban, the company was still using large billboard adverts in Kenya featuring players such as England captain and Tottenham Hotspur player Harry Kane in July. Players in the UK are banned by the FA from having deals with gambling firms.
This isn’t the first time 1xBet has been in trouble involving the Premier League. It was issued a cease-and-desist notice in December 2017 for illegally streaming Premier League games online.
The gambling firm still has a partnership in Europe with Spanish soccer giants, FC Barcelona.