Fansbet operator claims all is well despite affiliate debts

9 January 2020

Executives of the company behind UK white label sportsbook Fansbet claim the business is in good financial shape, despite acknowledging that the company owes more than £500,000 in late payments to affiliates dating back to August 2019.

Enda Gaffney, chief executive of Rush Gaming, the Malta-based subsidiary of Rush Entertainment Group which operates Fansbet, said it was behind in payments to multiple pay-per-click (PPC) affiliates. This was down to the business over-budgeting for affiliates, he explained.

However, Gaffney added that the company is communicating with these partners and believes it will be able to pay them in full.

“Yes it’s a substantial amount but the funds are there,” Gaffney said. “We have probably five or six PPC affiliates that we’re dealing with. We have been in dialogue, we’ve given timelines.”

Rush Entertainment Group chief executive Sondre Sagstuen said this overbudgeting led to late payments because the company is undergoing a "restructuring."

Gaffney added that the company was in no risk financially. Although Rush Partners’ listing with the UK Companies House puts the company in debt by £2.6m, leading to suggestions on affiliate forums that the company may be headed towards bankruptcy, Gaffney said these concerns were far of the mark.

He said that, as Rush Partners is a subsidiary of Norwegian-headquartered Rush Entertainment Group, the finances of Rush Partners did not reflect the group as a whole.

“We’re not going under,” Gaffney said. “The intention is to pay and we will do because we intend to work with these guys in the future.”

Rush previously operated three sites in the UK, as well as one under the brand Norske Spil in Malta. However, in November, two of these - Liverpool FC-themed RedsBet and Manchester United-themed RedArmyBet - were closed down and absorbed under Fansbet due to low traffic.

Because of the over-indexing of UK affiliates, Gaffney said he anticipates a change in marketing strategy in the future. While the company is likely to still use affiliates significantly, more of these will be focused on territories where operators can do business under Malta Gaming Authority licences, rather than the UK.

He added that, while affiliate payments are behind, all other payments, such as those to suppliers, are up to date.

Player funds, meanwhile, must be held separately as a condition of a UK Gambling Commission licence. As Fansbet is a white label, these funds are held by white label solutions provider Viral Interactive, a subsidary of Finnplay.

“Our key suppliers are Viral Interactive and SBTech and all our invoices are up to date. With marketing it’s just affiliates and operationally we’re fine,” Gaffney said.

Martin Prantner, director of Viral Interactive, stressed that marketing was the responsibility of Rush, not Viral.

The Gambling Commission’s licence conditions and codes of practice does not mention any responsibilities towards affiliates. While a licence holder must notify the regulator if it defaults on a debt, Gaffney said Rush have not received any formal notice that would suggest a default was imminent.

Although Gaffney said Viral was made aware of the late payments, Prantner said this was not the case. He said the only contact about payments between the two concerned payments to Viral.

Prantner added that Viral made annual financial checks of Rush, and all other white label partners, as part of its due diligence.

“We of course have to do financial due diligence and we periodically review it” Prantner said. “But this relationship between Rush Partners and Viral has been in place for many years, so things, of course, move quickly.

"We of course performed due diligence when we entered the partnership and whenever it’s needed. But what we do not check is, for example if there were outstanding invoices towards our client. But of course we do the do diligence on the whole Rush Group, so I think the investment money is on the group level but maybe not in the UK entity at this moment.”