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  • Kishan Patel

Gambling operators as multinational corporations

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

The gambling industry is international; headquarters are based in low-tax and low-regulation countries, and online operators have global customers. The UK is strategically important, not only as a source of income but also for the unique and global exposure of its sports, particularly Premier League Football. Moreover, advertisement through football club sponsorships can reach millions of fans in countries where gambling may be prohibited. Hence, many of these UK-based gambling corporations have huge worldwide influences.


Summary

The gambling industry is an international one; company headquarters are commonly based in low-tax and low-regulation countries, and online operators often have customers worldwide. The UK is not only strategically valuable as a source of income for operators, influence as an example of a liberalisation case-study, but it also boasts a unique global exposure of sports, particularly Premier League Football. Interestingly, despite the industry being critical of non-regulated brands in the UK, many UK operators often profit from unregulated markets themselves. 138


Before December 2014, remote operators based outside of the UK were not required to pay UK gambling duty on profits made from UK residents. After being legally mandated to hold a UK license and pay UK gambling duty, the number of remote operators licensed more than doubled in a year.


The prohibition of gambling products remains in numerous countries such as Turkey and China. Top English football clubs, which have millions of fans in these countries, are closely involved in betting companies' promotional efforts, either through prominent shirt sponsorships, pitch-side advertising, and the direct use of player endorsements.


Countries in Africa, the United States, and Latin America provide growth opportunities due to increased digitalisation and legalisation. Many of the larger businesses dominating the global online gambling industry are UK-based, demonstrating the size and global influence of these operators.


What is known?


Football sponsorships

  • Premier League Clubs with an association with a betting brand in the 20/21 season (18 out of 20) 139

​Team

Betting partnerships

Arsenal

Sportsbet.io (official betting partner)

Aston Villa

LT (sleeve sponsors)

Brighton

betway (official betting partner)

Burnley

LoveBet (shirt & sleeve sponsors), dafabet (other partner)

Chelsea

Crystal Palace

W88 (shirt sponsors)

Everton

Parimatch (shirt sponsors)

Fulham

BetVictor (shirt sponsors)

Leeds United

SBOTOP (shirt sponsors), bet365 (betting partner)

Leicester United

Yabo Sports (official betting partner), Parimatch (official training kit partner), bet365, w88, betway (other partners)

Liverpool

Draftkings (unknown partnership) 140

Manchester City

MarathonBet (training kit sponsors)

Manchester United

Yabo Sports (official betting partner)

Newcastle United

Fun88 (kit sponsors), Unibet (other partner)

Sheffield United

Southampton

Sportsbet.io (shirt sponsors), Unibet (other partner)

Tottenham Hotspur

William Hill (official betting partner)

West Bromwich Albion

12bet (sleeve sponsors), bet365 (other partner)

West Ham United

Betway (shirt sponsors)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

ManBetX (shirt sponsors), bet365 (other partner)

International gambling brands based in the UK

  • SportPesa (based in Liverpool)

  • Arsenal sent its former star, Sol Campbell, to Nairobi for children's coaching sessions with SportPesa 141

  • Took £1.15bn in revenue from Kenya (95% of its total global income) 142

  • Hull City players went to a Nairobi shanty town, where they handed out SportPesa branded wristbands and football strips to schoolchildren 141

  • Families watch television adverts featuring Arsenal, which is sponsored by a betting firm. The slogan is "They play, you win” 143

  • Editec (based in London) 141

  • Trades in Kenya as PremierBet, made pre-tax profits of £17m on a turnover of £51m in 2017, almost entirely from Africa

  • The “casino” section of PremierBet’s Kenya website includes a number of cartoon-character gambling games that appeal to children. They have names such as Lucky Pirates, fronted by a friendly toucan; Spellcraft, with smiling witches; and Rainbows

  • In Cameroon, PremierBet has sponsored a school with its corporate logo on the wall

An example of how gambling companies operate in black markets without licenses

  • Bet365, like others, operates in many countries where it does not have a license 144

  • Important betting markets where Bet365 is available include:

  • Australia,

  • Austria,

  • Argentina,

  • Bulgaria,

  • Canada,

  • China,

  • Croatia,

  • Denmark,

  • Germany,

  • Great Britain,

  • Hungary,

  • Iceland,

  • Ireland,

  • Italy,

  • Norway,

  • Russia,

  • Spain,

  • Sweden and

  • Switzerland

  • Countries that Bet365 is licensed in as of Q4 2019:

  • Australia,

  • Denmark,

  • Gibraltar,

  • Great Britain,

  • Italy,

  • Malta, and

  • Spain

Number of licensed gambling operators in the UK

  • Number of licensed gambling software operators 102

  • 2013: 96

  • 2014: 89

Prior to November 1st 2014, online operators were not required to have a Great British Gambling Commission licence and did not have to pay UK betting duty taxes)

  • 2015: 216

  • 2016: 241

  • 2017: 254

  • 2018: 299

  • 2019: 314

  • 2020: 321

  • Number of licensed remote casino, betting, and bingo operators 102

  • 2013: 182

  • 2014: 173

Prior to November 1st 2014, online operators were not required to have a Great British Gambling Commission licence and did not have to pay UK betting duty taxes)

  • 2015: 499

  • 2016: 506

  • 2017: 528

  • 2018: 608

  • 2019: 626

  • 2020: 596

A few of the UK’s largest gambling businesses, where they are based, and subsidiary trading names 145

  • 888 Holdings PLC: Gibraltar: (Market Cap: £1bn, Great British remote license from 1st November 2014)

  • 888 UK Limited: Gibraltar

  • 777.com, 888.co.uk, 888.com, 888.info, 888bingo.com, 888casino.com, 888ladies.com, 888poker.co.uk, 888poker.com, 888poker.net, 888pokercam.com, 888pokeruk.com, 888responsible.com, 888sport.com, 888vipcasinoclub.com, angrybingo.com, bbqbingo.com, beatlebingo.com, betyoucan.com, bingoappy.com, bingoballroom.com, bingofabulous.com, bingohearts.com, bingohollywood.co.uk, bingohollywood.com, bingostreet.com, casino-www.888poker.com, casino-www.888sport.com, celebbingo.com, citybingo.com, costabingo.com, costagames.com, daisybingo.com, dinobingo.com, fancybingo.com, frozenbingo.com, giantbingo.com, magic888casino.com, monkeybingo.com, online-casino.com, play-www.777.com, poshbingo.co.uk, redbusbingo.com, riobingo.com, seasonbingo.com, singbingo.com, snowybingo.com, sparklybingo.com, tastybingo.com, treasurebingo.com, trexbingo.com, winkbingo.com, winkbingo.net, wishbingo.com, www.888poker-promotions.com, www.bigteasebingo.com, www.bingoloft.com, www.bringobingo.com, www.crocodilebingo.com, www.deepseabingo.com, www.easterbingo.com, www.fantasticspins.com, www.farmyardbingo.com, www.farmyardbingo.info, www.jinglebingo.com, www.kingdomofbingo.com, www.realdealbingo.com, www.rewindbingo.com, www.scarybingo.com, www.skyhighslots.com, www.slotcrazy.com, www.snowybingo.com, www.spybingo.com, www.sweetshopbingo.com, www.winkslots.co.uk, www.winkslots.com, www.winkslots.net, www.winkslots.uk

  • William Hill: England (Market Cap: £3bn, Great British remote license from 1st November 2014) purchased by Caesar’s Entertainment (USA) for £3bn due to be concluded in April 2021

  • WHG (International) Limited: Gibraltar

  • www.williamhill.com

  • Mr Green Limited: Malta

  • www.mrgreen.com

  • Bet365: England (Market Cap: £5bn, Great British remote license from 1st November 2014)

  • Hillside ENC: Malt

  • bet365.com

  • Entain plc: Gibraltar (Market Cap: £9bn, Great British remote license from 1st November 2014)

  • LC International Limited: Gibraltar

  • betdaq.com, bwin.com, cheekybingo.com, coral.co.uk, foxybingo.com, foxygames.com, galabingo.com, galacasino.com, galaspins.com, gamebookers.com, ladbrokes.com, partycasino.com, partypoker.com, sportingbet.com, sportingbet.uk

  • Flutter Entertainment: Ireland (Market Cap: £29bn, Great British remote license from 1st November 2014)

  • PPB Entertainment Limited: Malta

  • www.betfair.com, www.paddypower.com

  • Stars Interactive Limited: Isle of Man

  • www.betstars.uk, www.fulltilt.uk, www.pokerstars.uk, www.pokerstarscasino.uk, www.uk.fulltilt.com

  • FanDuel Limited: USA

  • www.fanduel.com

  • Bonne Terre Limited: England

  • www.skybet.com, www.skybingo.com, www.skycasino.com, www.skypoker.com, www.skyvegas.com

  • Kindred Group: Gibraltar (Market Cap: £34bn, Great British remote license from 1st November 2014)

  • 32Red Limited: Gibraltar

  • 32red.com, 32redbingo.com, 32redpoker.com, 32redsport.com

  • Platinum Gaming Limited: England

  • touch.unibt.co.uk, www.unibet.co.uk

Taxes paid and taxes avoided by the gambling industry

  • Kindred Group

  • 32 Red, which is based in Gibraltar, paid just £812,000 in corporation tax in the ten years to 2016 – an effective tax rate of 3 per cent 146

  • Entain plc (formerly GVC)

  • 2017 147

  • UK

  • corporation tax: £14m,

  • business rate & other taxes: £34m

  • betting duties: £396m

  • employer national insurance: £37m

  • irrecoverable VAT: £72m

  • Foreign

  • taxes: £244

  • 2019 148

  • UK

  • corporation tax: £-17m

  • business rate and other taxes: £29m

  • betting duties: £393m

  • employer national insurance: £34m

  • irrecoverable VAT: £68M

  • Foreign

  • taxes: £420m

What the industry said?

William Hill PLC Annual Report 2019 149

"The US remains our most significant near-term opportunity. As we continue to hold leading positions in existing states, and work to launch in newly accessible states, the complexity of our US business"


William Hill identifies to shareholders that the US represents the source of the most significant growth in the near-term due to online sports betting's legalisation.


Kindred 146

“Kindred Group and all our brands – including 32Red – pays all taxes required in every market we operate including the UK.”


Kindred states that they pay all their taxes required but omits the concern that UK corporation tax is being avoided and instead corporation tax is being paid in low tax and low regulation countries.


GVC (Entain Group) 146

“GVC is a global business. Nevertheless, group companies paid more than £2.5billion of UK taxes from 2015 - 2019, making it one of the top 20 largest taxpayers in the country.”


GVC had conveniently reported figures from 2015 when remote operators had to register for a license and could no longer avoid UK betting duties and UK corporation tax. Businesses like GVC still benefit from their offshore bases by avoiding UK corporation tax in place of lower rates in Gibraltar.


Bet365 150

“A geographical analysis of turnover has not been given, as in the opinion of the directors, such a disclosure would be severely prejudicial to the interests of the group”


Bet365 is primarily owned by the Coates Family (93%) and a minority stake owned by Will Roseff (7%). A lack of investors means that Bet365 has no need to be transparent about risks and opportunities, and thus, it refuses to identify the significance of its revenues from ‘black-market’ regions.


Michael Dugher 12

“Unfortunately, in the same way that it is true that regulated betting employs 100,000 people and pays around £3 billion in tax, none of this evidence suits the anti-gambling lobby.”


Dugher refers to the levels of employment and tax revenue provided by regulated betting. Ironically, Dugher is keen to avoid discussion of the harms caused by gambling to society and the scale of tax avoidance on the part of gambling companies


Sam Chibambo, Premier Bet (Editec) Sales Manager 151

“We are here to change people’s lives. With little money, one wins huge amount of money. I can only encourage people to visit our shops and our agents to place their bets. They can also bet online.”


A sales manager for a UK-headquartered operator with customers in Africa encourages the idea of gambling to achieve a better life.


Fady Younes, Malawi Marketing Manager of Premier Bet (Editec) 141

“We hope that everyone who places bets will win up to 20m [kwacha — about £21,000].”


A marketing manager for another UK-headquartered operator with customers in Africa, disingenuously implies that the operator hopes that everyone will win a small fortune.


Mor Weizer, CEO of Playtech 152

“Being too focused on regulated markets actually comes with a lot of risks, not just rewards. There is a balance companies, bookmakers and operators – definitely the pan-European ones – need to maintain between unregulated and regulated income streams.

It is extremely important to enjoy the benefits of operating in certain unregulated markets, generating income that can then be deployed in the same markets as they become regulated, and in other markets where online gaming is already regulated.”


Weizer highlights the strategic importance of unregulated markets', recommending that operators involve themselves as part of the black-market.


GVC 153

“Unregulated gambling markets in Asia and North America make up a big portion of the global online gaming market. About 4% of the company's revenue currently comes from these markets, and GVC said by the end of the year the number would be cut to 1%.”


Interestingly, 4% of GVC’s revenue in 2020 was accrued from black market gambling in Asia and North America. The 4% is relatively higher than the 1.2% valuation of the black market in the UK, which is so often proclaimed as the bogeyman of gambling in Britain.


Shay Segev, CEO of GVC 154

“making great progress towards being the leading operator in the US.”


Segev reports on the growth opportunity of the US and customer acquisition efforts in a recently legalised market.


Philip Bowcock, CEO of William Hill 155

“Just one year on since PASPA [Federal Ban on Sports Betting] was overturned William Hill has doubled the sports wagering it handles in the US, seen record performances at the Super Bowl and March Madness, is live in all seven states to have allowed sports betting and expects to enter further states soon, with Indiana and Iowa the most recent states to pass bills to legalise sports betting.”


Bowcock reports on the success of expansion to the US as sports betting becomes legalised.


References

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102. Gambling Commission. Industry statistics. Available from: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/Statistics-and-research/Statistics/Industry-statistics.aspx [Accessed: 31st March 2020]

138. Goodley S. Revealed: how bet365 profits from Chinese punters who risk jail for gambling online. The Guardian. 3 October 2014. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/03/bet365-profit-china-online-gambling [Accessed: 21st March 2021]

139. Ebejer M. The Evolution Of Premier League Betting Sponsorship. Available from: https://www.thepunterspage.com/evolution-premier-league-betting-sponsorship/ [Accessed: 31st March 2021]

140. DraftKings. Daily Fantasy Sports For Cash. Available from: https://www.draftkings.co.uk/ [Accessed: 30th March 2021]

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