With new laws possibly coming into effect soon that will effectively outlaw the shirt sponsorship of betting companies in the UK, are clubs still making money from gambling sites that are based or even operate exclusively in Asia?
The answer would appear to be yes as the majority of clubs have gone off, and in some case quietly, added Asian or global betting partners designed exclusively for that part of the world.
This is even more strange because in many parts of Asia, such as China, betting is strictly prohibited and, while there are of course the black markets, offshore betting is very common and has largely been behind the mesmeric rise of Macau.
The idea of collecting Asian betting partners is, of course, is to promote gambling to people watching back home in China, a place where gambling is loved but is also illegal.
Official Asian Betting Partners
Chinese firms are illegal even in their own country so while Chinese betting sponsor logos can, for now, be seen in the Premier League, they cannot be seen in their homeland.
This would naturally mean that betting companies cannot place their logos on teams in the Chinese league or be seen on teams visiting for friendly matches.
As was the case in July 2019 when Wolves beat Newcastle 4-0 in a pre-season friendly in Nanjing before the covid pandemic.
There have been no pre-season tours of China since but back then both teams were required to remove the betting sponsor logos from their shirts in order to play the match without breaking local laws.
In Newcastle’s case, they removed Chinese based Fun88 while Wolves did away with ManBetX who hail from the Philippines.
It is not uncommon to see teams sporting adverts for betting companies often featuring Chinese writing and the lucky number eight.
The number 88 is important in Cantonese and Mandarin culture and is regarded as a lucky number and is even prominent in the illegal betting rings of Asian gaming markets.
Thirteen Premier League Teams With Overseas Betting Partners
|Premier League Club||Gambling Sponsor||Who||Where They Are From||Main or Minor|
|Aston Villa||Yes||OUBAO BET||China||Minor (still to launch)|
|Leeds United||Yes||SBOTOP||Philippines||Main and Minor|
|Leicester City||Yes||HTH Bet and W88||China and Philippines||All minor|
|Manchester United||Yes||HTH Bet||China||Minor|
|Newcastle United||Yes||Fun88||China||Major and minor|
There are presently 13 teams in the Premier League that have foreign owned gambling sponsors.
Some of these, like the mysterious OUBAO BET, are unavailable in the UK so are only there to attract foreign money.
Others, like Sportsbet.io, which despite its Indian Ocean domain hails from Tallin, are open to UK users.
Some of these are the main shirt sponsor while others are official Asian betting partners.
Manchester United have a deal in place with Chinese betting brand HTH (Hua Ti Hui) for the Chinese based firm to be their global betting partner.
It looks as though Asian betting partners are on the rise, off shirt in the long term of course, while English and Scandinavian bookies who actually operate here are on the decline.
There appear to only four clubs in the English top flight – Liverpool, Chelsea, Brentford, Norwich and Brighton & Hove Albion –are without a betting partner at the moment of writing.
In the case of Norwich, they were actually signed up to a deal with Asian online sportsbook BK8 before backlash from the fans over inappropriate advertising saw the contract terminated. Had it have gone ahead, BK8 would have replaced Swedish owned LeoVegas as the club’s main sponsor who themselves replaced Fillpino brand Dafabet on the shirts of the Norfolk team.
Information Hard To Come By
Even finding out information on these Asian betting companies can be tricky.
Take, Crystal Palace’s Asian online betting and gaming partner W88, whose site is accessible in the UK, says that they were founded in 2013 and are licenced in the Philippines.
Earlier in the year, Manchester United added Chinese betting brand Hua Ti Hui, to their roster of sponsors. The unlaunched Chinese betting site will be their global betting partner, replacing Yabo Sport, who themselves replaced the now defunct MoPlay in the club’s global betting category in 2019.
Little is known about HTH and there is even less about them on their own website, their only return on a Google search. Things are pretty much the same in the case of OUBAO BET.
The party line is that these companies help raise the profile of Premier League clubs’ in Asia.
While there could be some truth to this claim, it is clear that the clubs really do not want to part ways with gambling’s rich revenue stream so a promoting Asian firms instead of English ones and only on their website allows them to achieve this.
Even while there are complaints about gambling’s power over the English Premier League, foreign sponsors are ploughing money into Premier League clubs more than ever, with the Chinese and Filipino gambling companies leading the way.
And the clubs would appear to love it.