Asian operators await decision on UK sports sponsorships

asianbookiesThe forthcoming UK Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act will come into play from October 1st and may force online gambling operators to obtain a UK gambling license should they wish to continue their partnerships with sports franchises in the nation.

This act is being put in place to ensure that all companies who accept bets from customers, or, importantly, market and advertise their business in the UK will need to apply for a license to be issued at the discretion of the UK Gambling Commission. Therein lies a problem for the numerous operators who are currently licensed in the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and other such ‘whitelist’ jurisdictions.

Many of these such as Fun88, TLC88.com, Dafabet, 188bet and more currently have deals in place with Premier League clubs and other sports franchises across the UK. These partnerships benefit these operators, who focus predominantly on the Asian markets, in that it increases their exposure to said markets. The Premier League after all maintains a vast and dedicated following throughout much of Asia.

The UK Gambling Commission had stated that it had no intention of issuing any advertising only licenses and followed that it wasn’t interested in licensing any firm which was not actively doing business in the UK. This of course set alarm bells off in regards to the future status of these sponsorship deals which are typically multi-year in nature and worth a significant amount to clubs. It was estimated in May that the league as a whole stands to lose £90m should this crackdown on Asian online betting operators go through.

However on Friday it returned to this issue with the Commission releasing its latest update with a focus on whether online gambling firms which blocked wagering from UK customers would be able to maintain their sports betting partnerships. The current verdict is that “the position on non-remote advertising is arguable both in terms of the law and the facts of any particular case.” The Commission also stated that now “only the courts can provide a definitive view.”

The opinion of the Commission however seemed to focus on the concerns with making further changes regarding advertising based exemptions to the new ruling. Further concerns were noted such as that “blocking technology is not 100% viable”, as well as worries that operators who did not hold a UK license would not be “subject to the provisions around around reporting suspicious betting activity and the general player protection framework.”

Finally the Commission also expressed its view that upholding the advertising restrictions would “provide greater clarity to operators and the carries of advertising as to who is and who is not able to advertise.”

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