Betting shares wobble as UK threatens to extend ban on football sponsorship

Loophole that permits foreign gambling firms to advertise on English and Scottish football teams' shirts is likely to be scrapped
Betting shares wobble as UK threatens to extend ban on football sponsorship

West Ham United is sponsored by Malta-based gambling company Betway.

Britain could ban foreign betting firms from being shirt sponsors of British football teams by closing a legal loophole as part of its gambling law reform.

The loophole that allows foreign betting firms to advertise on English and Scottish football teams’ shirts and pitchside hoardings is likely to be scrapped as part of UK government plans to reduce gambling’s hold on the game.

Ministers finalising a planned reform of Britain’s gambling laws are expected to unveil their proposals within weeks, with an outright ban on betting company logos appearing on football shirts thought to be a strong possibility.

The chief executive of the English Football League, which is sponsored by SkyBet, described the prospect as “concerning”.

'White label' system also under scrutiny

Betting stocks also took a wobble on the back of the threat. Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment — which owns SkyBet — dipped 1.5%, while Ladbrokes owner Entain Group fell by 2.3%.

It is understood that the UK government is also considering going beyond shirt sponsorship by taking aim at the controversial “white label” system used by overseas betting companies, chiefly from Asian countries such as China and Thailand, to strike lucrative sponsorship deals.

These firms can gain access to English and Scottish football via partnerships with small companies that hold a British gambling licence, a requirement for firms that want to advertise in the UK.

The “white label” firms, often based in jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man or Malta, effectively rent their licences to overseas brands, which can then market themselves via shirts and pitchside hoardings to fans in countries where gambling is illegal and cannot be advertised.

Guardian service and Irish Examiner

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