London, Oct. 18 (ANI): Two Premier League sponsor gambling firms have come under attack for offering live betting on Under-18 games, with fears that it puts teenagers at risk of corruption.
The Isle of Man-based 188bet and SBObet offer online betting on academy games, largely to satisfy their huge client base in the Far East, the Telegraph reports.
188bet are the official gambling partners of Chelsea and Aston Villa and the shirt sponsors of Bolton and Wigan, while SBObet sponsor the shirts of West Ham and Cardiff.
Huw Jennings, who runs Fulham's academy, was shocked to discover that major gambling firms were offering live odds on games.
"I thought this was to do with underground betting syndicates in Singapore and Hong Kong. I had no idea it was major bookmakers offering bets. What we have is the vulnerability of children and youth activities being exposed by international gambling organisations. I'm amazed at the ease with which these bets are available," he said.
SBObet were offering in-play betting on 11 academy games on Saturday morning while 188bet were offering 10.
The Professional Footballers' Association has urged the government and the Football Association to act against the firms.
"It is making our youngsters vulnerable, without a shadow of a doubt," he said. "Youngsters and gambling is a bad mix, and an unhealthy one," Gordon Taylor, head of PFA, said.
The Premier League has vowed to take firm action.
"We are alarmed at these developments and are currently discussing this matter with our clubs and the government. What is clear is that this further highlights the need for the relationship between sport and the gambling industry to be properly regulated in order to protect the integrity of sport," a Premier League spokesman said.
However, SBObet and 188bet operate offshore, putting them outside FA jurisdiction. (ANI)