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UK Parliamentarians Warn Premier League Of Sponsor Probe

January 23, 2023
The vice chair of a coalition of UK politicians has warned the Gambling Commission and the English Premier League to account for alleged ties of eight sports-betting sponsors to convicted junket supremo Alvin Chau or face a parliamentary probe.


The vice chair of a coalition of UK politicians has warned the Gambling Commission and the English Premier League (EPL) to account for alleged ties of eight sports betting sponsors to convicted junket supremo Alvin Chau or face a parliamentary probe.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, conservative vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Gambling Related Harm, told the Mail on Sunday that the group is focusing on Chau’s reported links to Isle of Man-registered thegamingplatform (TGP), a white label operator that provides website services and UK licensing for the sponsors.

TGP-linked websites sponsor leading Premier League clubs Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United, as well as six other clubs.

The websites’ registrations are scattered across Curaçao, Estonia, the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Malta, the Philippines and the Isle of Man.

But TGP, which provides various services to each, has been linked by the Mail on Sunday to the once-dominant Suncity junket boss through defunct website and other corporate ties.

“The APPG are particularly concerned about the nature of the relationship between [TGP], and Suncity, whose founder and controlling shareholder Alvin Chau has been sentenced for serious crimes in China and stands accused in an Australian Parliamentary inquiry of associating with known triads,” Duncan Smith said.

“The APPG would call on the Gambling Commission, the Premier League, the clubs and also TGP itself to explain the nature of these links, and if we are not satisfied with the explanation, we will be holding an inquiry.”

Chau was sentenced to 18 years in prison in Macau on Wednesday (January 18) for organised crime, gambling and fraud offences, with eight of his Suncity colleagues or associates jailed between nine and 15 years.

Together, the nine were also ordered to pay HK$6.5bn ($830m) to the government and HK$2bn in compensation to five of Macau’s six casino concessionaires over years of revenue lost to underground betting arrangements.

“The reputational harm to the EPL, which has been a global success story, is considerable and this risk is not to be taken lightly,” Duncan Smith said.

The former Conservative party leader said the Mail on Sunday’s reporting on the TGP-Chau connection “raises important questions around transparency and accountability” for all parties, including the Gambling Commission, the EPL and all commercial operations associated with the sponsors.

“It is clear that the Premier League clubs need to come clean on whether they know who the beneficial owners are of these Asian-facing brands, whether the clubs have done full due diligence, and whether, ultimately, they know where the tens of millions of pounds that pour into their coffers come from.”

Asia- and particularly China-facing sports-betting brands have become a ubiquitous feature of the EPL and other European football leagues, with opaque ownership structures and inscrutable business methods the norm rather than the exception.

The penetration of British football by cash-rich Asian and other foreign betting sponsors, including several that advertise in Chinese rather than English, has led to the Premier League consulting with clubs on the practice, as well as triggering blowback from anti-gambling groups and football fans, who have mobilised to urge clubs to block such sponsors.

Chau’s notoriety and global influence as a gaming mogul and his political connections to the Chinese state failed to protect him from the likely final phase in Beijing’s dismantling of Macau’s once all-conquering junket segment.

His public downfall began with a mainland Chinese newspaper report in mid-2019 into his alleged funnelling of Macau land-based customers into online gambling via his Philippine interests and tandem police probes into his affairs in mainland China and Macau.

Chau’s wider gaming activities in Australia also came under scrutiny after various probes in New South Wales and Victoria states linked his junket activities to money laundering and other serious compliance failures.

The fallout from these probes purged the boards of Crown Resorts and The Star Entertainment Group, while Chau himself was declared persona non grata by the Australian government.

Chau has always denied being a member of a triad, but his former association with one-time 14K triad boss, convicted felon and Macau gaming mogul Wan “Broken Tooth” Kuok-koi has been the centrepiece of formal accusations against him in several jurisdictions.

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