Michael Owen used his Twitter account to promote an unlicensed cryptocurrency casino to the UK public, in violation of UK gambling advertising laws.
He was also instructed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to remove a promotion for a controversial non-fungible token scheme for violating rules on advertising cryptocurrency products.
On May 16, Owen posted two tweets advertising “Punt Casino”, which is registered on the Caribbean island of Curacao but does not have a UK license.
Under UK law, only betting companies licensed by the UK Gambling Commission can legally advertise to UK consumers.
After Athleticism made inquiries, the tweets were deleted and the Punt Casino website was “geo-blocked” for UK users.
“Punt Casino is a fully licensed Curacao casino operating under the rules and regulations associated with that license,” a spokesperson said. “We do not target or promote our casino to customers from countries and/or jurisdictions not permitted by such license.”
Separately, Athleticism may reveal that Owen was instructed by the ASA to remove a tweet advertising non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that sparked controversy claiming to be “the very first (NFTs) that cannot lose their original value” .
What is Punt Casino?
In a press release on Punt Casino, Owen said, “I strongly believe in the power of crypto, so teaming up with an innovative platform like Punt Casino feels like a natural fit.”
The press release, however, makes no mention of the countries or jurisdictions targeted by the company.
Gambling advertising is widespread in football and it is very common to see famous ex-pros appearing in advertisements.
But the company promoted by Owen is very different from William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet365, companies licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission – Punt Casino does not have a UK license.
Another unusual thing about Punt Casino is that it accepts payment in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“Punt Casino has quickly become a big player in the crypto casino scene with its super powerful freebies and outstanding online casino platform,” the company states.
Bookmakers targeting UK customers do not tend to work with cryptocurrencies, as the gambling regulator says the practice carries significant risks of money laundering and illegal activity.
“Punt Casino takes its responsibilities as a legitimate and licensed casino operator very seriously,” a spokesperson said. Athleticism.
Why can’t Punt be advertised to UK consumers?
Under UK law, betting companies must obtain a license from the UK Gambling Commission in order to advertise to UK consumers, an Advertising Standards Agency spokesperson has confirmed. Athleticism.
Athleticism previously investigated a series of Asian gambling companies, which advertise English football shirts in Chinese and have no interest in the UK market.
But these companies use ‘white label’ agreements to comply with UK law.
Although the practice is controversial – and under increasing pressure as the UK government conducts a review of gambling laws – it is perfectly legal.
The Gambling Commission will not comment on specific cases, but a spokesperson said Athleticism that “online gambling operators are required to be licensed by the Gambling Commission to transact with UK-based consumers”.
“For the record, Punt Casino is a fully licensed Curacao casino operating under the rules and regulations associated with that license,” a Punt Casino spokesperson said. “We do not target or promote our casino to customers from countries and/or jurisdictions not permitted by such license.”
What about NFTs?
It’s not the first time this month that Owen has sparked controversy over his sponsorship deals. Last month, he promoted an NFT (non-fungible token) project which said it was the first such system “that cannot lose its original value”.
The idea seems to be that the NFT will contain a code that ensures it cannot be sold for less than the price it was originally bought at, so it cannot be sold at a loss.
But if someone buys an NFT and the price goes down, then they can’t cut their losses by selling, which means they lose the entire amount they paid.
Athleticism can reveal that the Advertising Standards Authority then contacted Owen to ask him to remove the tweet, for breaching Advertising Standards Authority rules regarding the advertising of cryptocurrency products. A spokesperson for Owen confirmed that the tweet had been deleted and the matter was now closed.
(Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)