Sky Bet Pulls Plug On Commentator Bingo

Commentator Bingo is no more after Sky Bet pulled it within hours of its launch

Gambling companies are always looking for new and innovative way to sell their products. Critics argue these are simply new ways of extracting money from punters. Sky Bet came up with the idea of commentator bingo but they pulled it before it got going.

Sky Bet created commentary bingo as a novelty betting market. It allowed customers to place bets on exact words and phrases sad by Sky Football matchday commentators Martin Tyler, Gary Neville, and Jamie Carragher.

Commentator bingo was only in place for the recent Manchester United vs. Liverpool game on January 17. Sky Bet pulled it within hours of the kickoff without any formal explanation. The company deleted all social media posts about the novelty bet too.

Dropping commentator bingo so quickly may have been influenced by a backlash on Twitter. Twitter users expressed their disgust at Sky Sports allowing Sky Bet to offer such a betting market.

That anger was misguided, however. Sky Bet was part of Sky Plc but CVC Capital Partners bought it in 2015 for £800 million. It subsequently merged with The Stars Group and Flutter Entertainment in 2018 and 2019.

What Was Commentator Bingo?

Commentator Bingo was a novelty market that enjoyed an extremely short shelf life. It is a concept that you have likely seen before but not in this format.

Sky’s product made it possible for viewers of the Manchester United vs. Liverpool game to place bets on words and phrases used by the commentary teams. Sports commentators try to be as fresh as possible, yet there are certain cliches that they frequently use. Betting on one of these phrases resulted in the punter winning if someone on the commentary team said it.

People around the world do similar forms of bingo in real-life situations. It is popular during the Eurovision Song Contest, which Australia has competed at since 2015. Viewers use a bingo format as part of a drinking game. They take a drink whenever the commentator says a phrase, an act appears wearing specific clothing etc.

Gambling Harm Chair Chimes In

It wasn’t only Sky Bet’s Twitter account that received abuse, prominent people spoke in the press.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris is the chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group. She spoke to The Athletic and called commentator bingo “predatory.”

“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.”

UKGC May Ban Novelty Bets

Current regulations in the United Kingdom do not prohibit novelty bets such as commentator bingo. They are, however, sometimes considered bad taste. That could change soon due to criticism the industry recently garnered.

Betting on football players transfers is a popular market. Allowing these bets could become a thing of the past thanks to two Premier League footballers breaching betting rules.

Daniel Sturridge received a six-week ban and a £75,000 fine for breaching betting rules. This increased to four months and a £150,000 fine following an unsuccessful appeal.

The Football Association found Sturridge guilty of providing inside information to family members and friends about a potential transfer. Liverpool allowed Sturridge to leave on a free transfer Sturridge hinted to those close to him his next destination.

FIFA suspended Kieran Trippier for 10-weeks for similar offences. Friends and family members of Trippier bet on him moving from Tottenham Hotspur to Atletico Madrid. Trippier moved to Atletic Madrid in July 2019 and commanded a £21.7 million transfer fee.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) continually reviews gambling rules and regulations in the United Kingdom. The UKGC controversially reduced the maximum bet size of electronic gaming machines from £100 to only £2. It will not be surprising if they ban commentary bingo type bets in the near future.