Hannah Karp reports that while American sports leagues distance themselves from gambling, seven of the English Premier League's 20 clubs have jerseys emblazoned
with the names of online-betting companies. And two of the world's biggest, most successful sports gamblers have interested in lower division English teams: Tony Bloom is chairman of
Brighton and Hove Albion while Matthew Benham is a Brentford shareholder.
The NFL's policy forbids its owners from having interests in any gambling-related enterprises and is so prohibitive that the Rooney family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers, recently had to restructure their ownership because of new gambling offerings at the family's racetracks. Two years ago, several major leagues joined the NFL in suing the state of Delaware after lawmakers there passed legislation to allow single-game betting.
England's FA forbids anyone from betting, or helping others bet, on matches in which they are participating. Brighton's Bloom said through a club spokesman that he doesn't bet on Brighton's matches but still enjoys betting on soccer. Smartodds CEO Phil Whall, who represents Benham on the soccer club's board of directors, said Benham has never bet on a Brentford match.
Bloom took over as chairman in 2009 and has loaned the club at least $130 million interest-free for a new stadium, which is under construction. About five years ago, after Benham heard his favorite team from boyhood was in financial trouble, he loaned several million to a supporters' group to allow them to take over. He has since made additional loans and owns 30 percent of the club.