Soccer Sponsorship Terminated as UK Gambling Commission Probes M88

  • English Premier League team AFC Bournemouth ended its deal with its main jersey sponsor 
  • UKGC reportedly looking into business model and operations of Mansion Europe and M88
  • Jersey could have thank you message for frontline medical workers if no new sponsor is found
  • Mansion Group also subjected to MansionBet VIP scheme investigation, €150k Netherlands fine 
terminated contract
AFC Bournemouth ended its jersey sponsorship deal with M88 as news emerged of the UKGC’s investigation of the online gambling brand’s operations. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Bournemouth ends deal amid UKGC investigation

English Premier League (EPL) soccer club AFC Bournemouth said on Friday it would not be renewing its M88 jersey sponsorship that was expiring on Sunday. The announcement came alongside news of the M88 brand’s investigation by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC).

According to The Athletic, the UKGC is looking into different aspects of the operation and business model of Mansion Europe and the mainly Asia-facing M88, both owned by online gambling operator Mansion Group.

Bournemouth thanked M88 for the support it has provided over its three years of involvement with the club.

Plan for the rest of the EPL season

Bournemouth informed that it will be wearing a different kit for the remainder of the current EPL season. The team and M88 originally inked a two-year deal that was extended to include the 2019-2020 games. The agreement was allegedly worth a club sponsorship record of £5m ($6.2m) each season. 

agreement was allegedly worth a club sponsorship record of £5m ($6.2m) each season

Daily Mail reported that if Bournemouth does not find a new main jersey sponsor in the short term, it could instead print a “thank you” message in support of frontline medical workers during the ongoing pandemic. The Premier League will first need to give its approval for any jersey sponsorship changes. The club’s sleeve sponsorship deal with parent company Mansion will remain active.

The EPL season has been delayed by the outbreak of coronavirus, with games now set to resume from June 17. AFC Bournemouth has nine soccer matches left to play.

Previous brushes with gambling authorities

In April, there were reports in the UK that the authorities were probing the VIP scheme of Mansion brand MansionBet. A VIP manager had allegedly told an account holder that, while the platform did not like asking customers to verify their source of funds, they “have to do it because the UK gambling regulators make us do it.”

Mansion Group had a previous run-in with another regulatory body in 2013. This saw the company fined €150,000 ($166,747) by the Netherlands Gambling Authority after it had allowed Dutch customers to use the platform despite not having the authorization to do so.

MansionBet contested the fine with the Hague District Court but was unsuccessful. An appeal made to the Council of State in the country was denied in 2018.

M88 also recently announced it would withdraw support for customers in Malaysia and Cambodia. It did not give specific reasons for the decision. The brand’s main focus is Vietnam, Thailand, and the Chinese markets.