Retired football star Michael Owen fell into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after posting tweets promoting Punt Casino, an unlicensed crypto casino with a misleading NFT program.
Owen signed a deal to take on the role of brand ambassador for Punt Casino, an online casino licensed in Curaçao. His contract with the operator included a provision for him to promote the site, which he did through a series of Twitter posts.
However, Punt Casino is unlicensed in the UK, and according to rules from the UK Gambling Commission, only licensed casinos are given the green light to advertise to players in the region.
The Advertising Standards Authority reportedly got in touch with the former sports professional and urged him to remove his posts, which Michael Owen complied with immediately.
Punt Casino eventually addressed the controversy to make it clear that it never intended to target anyone from the United Kingdom. A spokeswoman for the casino highlighted that it is well aware of what standards it should follow and that it does not strive to recruit clients in regions where it does not have a license.
New online gambling deals have been a core component of football, despite growing protests against it in the sport. Everton FC had recently drawn flak from lobby groups after signing a landmark partnership with Stake.com.
Studies have shown that the United Kingdom has a problem with the negative effects of gambling, particularly in its more economically deprived areas. Recent studies have shown that underprivileged neighborhoods contribute a significant amount to the revenues made by gaming establishments. As a consequence of this, there have been calls for the business to be subjected to more stricter regulations.
Opponents of football gambling are keeping their fingers crossed that the review of the Gambling Act 2005 in the United Kingdom would result in a prohibition on gambling sponsorships in the famed British Premier League.