Sky Bet pulls Commentator Bingo market following Twitter backlash

Sky Bet terminated its novelty ‘Commentator Bingobetting market ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash between Manchester United vs Liverpool after Twitter users highlighted a number of concerns. 

The novelty market allowed punters to bet on the ‘exact words and phrases’ used by Sky Football matchday commentators Martin Tyler, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

Twitter users expressed their disbelief that Sky Sports had allowed Sky Bet to offer a commentary-based betting market on the Premier League’s highest-profile match.

Within hours of kick-off, Sky Bet had removed ‘Commentator Bingo’ from its matchday inventory without any formal explanation. 

Despite its brand connection, Sky Sports holds no relationship with Sky Bet, the former Sky Plc property which was sold to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in 2015 for £800 million and subsequently merged with The Stars Group and Flutter Entertainment Plc in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The market drew criticism from Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, who told The Athletic that it was ‘astounding, unbelievable and predatory’ that Sky Bet had offered such a market.

“Where are the limits? What are the boundaries on what these companies are going to take a bet on? I am aghast that they try to find a betting opportunity in every minute of the day,” Harris stated. 

Novelty football markets such as ‘Commentator Bingo’ are not prohibited by current UK gambling laws. 

However, the industry recently garnered criticism for offering markets on player transfers after it was found that England international Kieran Trippier was guilty of breaching FA rules, having encouraged friends to bet on his transfer to Atletico Madrid in summer 2019. 

Following high profile suspensions imposed on Trippier and former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, Betway launched an industry appeal to terminate all bets related to player transfers – a mandate carried by the majority of bookmakers. 

As it stands, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has made no statement with regards to whether novelty bets will be reviewed as part of its reform of the 2005 Gambling Act.

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