UK Gambling Commission issues warning over offshore gambling partnerships in sport

UK Gambling Commission issues warning over offshore gambling partnerships in sport

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 Totally Gaming

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has written to a number of sports governing bodies to outline the dangers of entering into commercial partnerships with unlicensed offshore gambling operators.

Under new gambling regulations due to come into effect in the UK, companies that wish to operate remotely and offer gambling services to consumers in the UK should obtain a licence from the UK regulatory body.

However, the UKGC has noted that some professional sports teams have secured partnerships with remote gambling operators that do not hold a UK licence.

The letter said those teams that have a relationship with such operators should not allow these companies to advertise without “making it clear in the product advertised and in reality that betting is not available to those in Britain”.

The regulator warned that failure to comply with its guidance could negatively impact on the overall effort to combat match fixing through corrupt betting of promoting unlicensed operators in foreign markets.

The commission also said that clubs could be putting themselves at risk of committing offences by virtue of an unlicensed third party sponsor failing to prevent consumers based in the UK from accessing its services.

The UKGC said that although blocking UK customers from accessing such services could be a solution, it might prove problematic in terms of the technical arrangements. The regulator also noted that risks to the integrity of sport can be greater where betting occurs in markets that are beyond the reach of the UKGC and sports governing bodies. 

Expanding on the advice given in the letter, UKGC communications manager Benjamin Glass told TotallyGaming.com that sports governing bodies should ensure that sponsors are taking the relevant action to avoid conflict with UK gambling regulations.

“We are aware that in some cases commercial partnership arrangements are in place between sports clubs or bodies and remote gambling operators who do not hold a Commission licence,” Glass told TotallyGaming.com

“From November 1, those operators cannot, in our view, advertise their betting services without making it clear that the product advertised is not available to those in Britain and preventing the product being accessed by those in Britain.

“While we appreciate that in a small number of cases some commercial relationships may have time left to run, we would strongly encourage sporting organisations to take effective steps to ensure that their sponsors have blocked access to British consumers and have made it clear that betting is not available to those in Britain.”

Nick Tofiluk (pictured), the director of regulatory operations at the Gambling Commission and author of the letter, added that such partnerships would send out the wrong message to punters in terms of unregulated services. 

Tofiluk added: “I would encourage you and your members to consider the matter carefully before engaging in sponsorship arrangements with gambling operators not licensed in Britain and therefore subject to none of the controls that we, sports and the betting industry have developed to combat corrupt sports betting.

“To put it bluntly, the promotion of unlicensed betting operators by sporting organisations is likely to send messages that are counter-productive at best.

“The Commission is of the view that the best way for sports bodies to protect themselves against this risk is to ensure that they only promote gambling operators that hold operating licences issued by the Gambling Commission.”

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