Chelsea, Liverpool Axe Sponsorship Deal With Russian Gambling Operator 1xBet

English Premier League clubs Chelsea and Liverpool have decided to end their sponsorship deals with 1xBet, a Russian bookmaker. 1xBet recently had its gambling license suspended by the UK Gambling Commission due to the company’s controversial advertising practices.

A third club, Tottenham Hotspur, severed ties with 1xBet shortly before Chelsea and Liverpool followed suit. The UK Gambling Commission warned that all three teams could face potential punishment due to their ties to the company if they continued their respective partnerships. The clubs were subject to discipline if they continued to advertise for a company that was no longer allowed to operate in the United Kingdom.

Tottenham agreed to a long-term partnership with 1xBet in August of 2018. The gambling operator became Spurs’ official betting partner in Africa as a part of the deal. Liverpool and Chelsea both agreed to deals with 1xBet this past July.

The Sunday Times Investigation

The UK Gambling Commission warned all three teams shortly after 1xBet’s license was suspended. The Commission told the clubs they should reconsider their relationship with the company, and that they could face fines and other disciplinary actions if they decided to continue their sponsorships.

1xBet initially raised red flags in the UK following an investigation by The Sunday Times that unearthed questionable legal marketing practices by the Russia-based operator. 1xBet operated in the British market under a license held by partner FSB Technology Limited. The Sunday Times discovered that 1xBet took wagers on things like cockfighting and children’s sports, and it was also featured in a promotion for a “pornhub” casino that featured topless dealers.

The Sunday Times also discovered that 1xBet has partnered with a number of websites that offer illegal internet streams of Premier League matches. 1xBet ads were also found on a variety of sketchy torrent websites.

UK Gambling Commission

The UK Gambling Commission subsequently launched an investigation into 1xBet’s operation in the United Kingdom and ultimately ordered the company to suspend all activities in the country. FSB said in August that it is reconsidering its future relationship with 1xBet.

1xBet attempted to deflect the blame. The company said that its brand appearing on questionable websites should be blamed on its affiliates. 1xBet also claims to have launched an internal investigation of its own into the matters.

New Outcry Against Gambling Sponsorships

The news of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham nixing their respective sponsorship deals with 1xBet comes amid a renewed cry for football clubs to distance themselves from associating with gambling entities. Gambling operators have been doing sponsorship deals with professional football clubs in the United Kingdom for years, and a number of clubs feature a gambling partner as their primary shirt sponsor. Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham are not among the clubs with a gambling entity as a primary sponsor, however.

10 of the top 20 clubs in the United Kingdom signed new agreements with gambling companies prior to the 2019-20 season. Those deals were worth a combined £69 million. Huddersfield Town was recently fined by the Football Association due to their shirt sponsorship gaffe with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power during the preseason.

Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said the suspension of 1xBet’s license and the subsequent fallout was “shocking” and “an absolute debacle” that the three teams

“failed to do the most basic due diligence checks on 1xBet before signing up for these multimillion-pound deals.”

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Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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