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Crystal Palace face criticism over gambling firm sponsorship deal



Crystal Palace face criticism over gambling firm sponsorship deal

Crystal Palace have faced criticism after signing a front-of-shirt sponsorship deal with gambling firm Net88.

Palace announced they had signed a “record” two-year contract with the Vietnamese company on Wednesday, whose logo will appear on Palace’s kit for 2024-25 as well as training attire, but Net88 had only a minimal online presence until this week.

It is an example of a white-label gambling firm which is operated by someone other than the brand owner — in this case, London-registered Risq Capital, which is regulated by the UK Gambling Authority.

When accessed from the UK, Net88’s website carries a message saying: “We are working on building a brand new betting experience. Our full website will be live soon. Net88 promotes responsible, legal gambling.”

But by being shown on Palace’s shirts, the company will be advertising to consumers watching on TV around the world, including in countries such as China and Vietnam where gambling is largely illegal.

The two-year deal with Palace runs until the summer of 2026, when gambling companies will be banned from the front of Premier League club shirts.

The move follows Wolverhampton Wanderers also announcing a front-of-shirt partnership with Asian gambling company DEBET this week.

“Neither Net88 nor Debet have functioning UK-facing websites, they have been licensed through ‘white label’ arrangements with existing license holders Risq and TGP Europe,” said Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling.

“This gives them permission to advertise in the Premier League with a view to appealing to Asian markets where online gambling and gambling advertising is illegal.

“The Premier League has committed to banning front of shirt sponsors from 2025-26 season, but the next government could eliminate the vast majority of gambling advertising in football by banning white labels.”

Palace fan Robert Sutherland said: “Gambling is, whether we like it or not, part of our sporting culture. My issue isn’t with Palace taking on gambling sponsorship as a whole — although I disagree with it from a moral position — because we’re surrounded by it, but partnering with these white-label entities to promote gambling abroad, often in countries where it is outlawed, really doesn’t sit right with me. It feels unethical.”

Palace’s chief commercial officer Barry Webber said on the club’s website that “Net88 is a global online gaming platform for sports and gaming fans alike, and we’re looking forward to working with them at this exciting time.”

Palace declined to comment. Net88 was contacted for comment.

(Top photo: CPFC)

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