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West Ham sponsor Betway are hit with £400,000 fine for breaching gambling rules

West Ham shirt sponsor Betway fined £400,000 for advertising links to play on club website ‘colouring pages’ aimed at children with images of club mascots

  • West Ham’s playing sponsor has been fined £400,000 for its advertising
  • Betway displayed its logo on the children’s coloring page on the West Ham site
  • Links on that page directed users directly to the company’s betting pages
  • Ads breached the Commission’s rules and the page has now been updated
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West Ham’s main sponsors Betway have been fined more than £400,000 for advertising on pages of the club’s website aimed at children.

Inquiries by the Gambling Commission revealed that Betway’s logo, which linked to the bookmaker’s website, appeared on a section that offered the option to print a picture of a teddy bear for children to colour.

The logo was displayed between April 14, 2020 and November 6, 2021. It was also found on the Young Hammers at Home page between October 24, 2021 and November 15, 2021.

Both ads breached Gambling Commission rules requiring all advertising to be socially responsible.

The Commission’s rules also state that responsibility for where logos are displayed rests with betting companies, such as Betway, resulting in them receiving a fine of £408,915 instead of West Ham.

A West Ham spokesman said: ‘The Betway logo appeared on a web page on the West Ham United website with content aimed at under 18s. Upon identification it was immediately removed.

Betway has been fined £400,000 for advertising a direct link to betting on a children's coloring page (the sponsor's logo can be seen on the website banner but has since been removed)
Betway has been fined £400,000 for advertising a direct link to betting on a children's coloring page (the sponsor's logo can be seen on the website banner but has since been removed)

Betway has been fined £400,000 for advertising a direct link to betting on a children’s coloring page (the sponsor’s logo can be seen on the website banner but has since been removed)

The Bubbles mascot was depicted on the coloring page next to the Betway gambling links
The Bubbles mascot was depicted on the coloring page next to the Betway gambling links

The Bubbles mascot was depicted on the coloring page next to the Betway gambling links

“The club’s new website, which was launched in March 2022, has robust systems in place to ensure that a technical issue such as this does not occur again.”

Betway’s sanction will give further ammunition to those calling for a total ban on betting-related sponsorship in football.

However, eight Premier League clubs have betting companies as sponsors of their shirts, training kits or areas at their grounds.

James Grimes, who fronts the Big Step campaign, which aims to rid football of gambling advertising, said: ‘This shows once again that the Government must stop all sponsorship of football gambling. By continuing to promote gambling, clubs are risking the health and lives of young fans.’

“As a responsible licensed operator, Betway has zero tolerance for marketing to under 18s,” Betway said in a statement.

‘As one of the first betting operators to remove our branding from under-18s kit and supporter merchandise, we feel very strongly about our responsibility in this area.

‘On this occasion the Betway logo – due to a technical error – appeared on a limited part of the West Ham United website. As soon as this error was brought to our attention, we took immediate action to have it removed.

“Nevertheless, we accept the fine and will continue to work closely with the club to ensure this does not happen again.”

West Ham owners David Sullivan (left) and David Gold (right) struck a sponsorship deal with Betway back in 2015
West Ham owners David Sullivan (left) and David Gold (right) struck a sponsorship deal with Betway back in 2015

West Ham owners David Sullivan (left) and David Gold (right) struck a sponsorship deal with Betway back in 2015

Two pages on the club's website aimed at younger fans contained links to Betway's website
Two pages on the club's website aimed at younger fans contained links to Betway's website

Two pages on the club’s website aimed at younger fans contained links to Betway’s website

Betway and West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan originally entered into their sponsorship deal in 2015.

Spileselskabet has been the club’s main shirt sponsor for the past seven years. West Ham had already removed the sponsor from the shirt of mascot Bubbles at the London Stadium on match days.

The findings by Betway come two years after the same commission fined the gambling sponsor a UK record £11.6m for ‘systemic historic failures’ in tackling money laundering and problem gambling.

They failed to carry out effective social responsibility checks on a customer who deposited and lost £187,000 over two days.

Betway says it is taking the fine seriously and said it was a 'technical error' advertising to under 18s
Betway says it is taking the fine seriously and said it was a 'technical error' advertising to under 18s

Betway says it is taking the fine seriously and said it was a ‘technical error’ advertising to under 18s

Leanne Oxley, the commission’s director of enforcement, said: ‘Protecting children from gambling is at the heart of what we do.

“While there is no indication that the operator deliberately targeted children or that children were allowed to play, we take breaches of rules intended to protect children extremely seriously.”

She advised other gaming companies to ‘learn from this case’ and ensure they have ‘the correct processes in place’ to avoid similar mistakes.

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