666Bet Director Paul Bell was arrested at Heathrow airport last week, one of seven individuals arrested as part of a fraud investigation.
The probe was carried out by the UK National Crime Agency and HM Revenue & Customs, and was looking into an alleged money-laundering ring that could involve as much as Â£21 million ($31 million) in funds.
Bell is a former stockbroker who is now an investor in 666Bet. After being released following his initial arrest, he was again arrested in the Isle of Man after arriving there by private jet.
Bell is said to be an active member of the community on the Isle of Man, where many online gambling companies are headquartered.
666Bet had been an increasingly major player in the world of UK online gambling. Last summer, they reached sponsorship agreements with West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City, two teams in soccer’s English Premier League.
Former Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp was also signed to the firm as a spokesman, and had appeared in advertisements for the company.
That success is now coming to a grinding halt. Last week, the UK Gambling Commission suspended the gaming license belonging to Metro Play Limited, which covers both Metro Play and 666Bet. The suspension does not stop the company from returning funds to customers who request cash outs, but it will prevent all other activities in the UK.
While that’s a serious step for regulators to take, there have been no comments suggesting that 666Bet or Metro Play is directly involved in the investigation.
“I can categorically state the investigation does not relate to 666Bet’s activities in the [gaming] world,” 666Bet’s Neil Andrews said in an email to the Independent over the weekend.
“We hope to have the site and our licence back ASAP but cannot comment on when this will be,” 666Bet said through their official Twitter account. “We appreciate your patience, every customer owed money will be paid.”
Thirteen properties were raided as a part of the same investigation. In total, Â£1 million ($1.48 million) in cash was seized by authorities. Raids took place in London, Manchester and the Isle of Man among other locations, with business records also being seized for the investigation.
The probe, which centered on value added tax (VAT) fraud and money laundering, was known as Operation Bannock.
So far, it seems that Metro Play and 666Bet have tried to downplay the issue. Despite the fact that both sites have been down since the license was suspended, the sites have posted messages that only say they are down for maintenance.
However, consequences in the UK have already started to become apparent for the company. Leyton Orient, a soccer team that competes in the third-tier of England’s league structure, has terminated their sponsorship agreement with 666Bet.
Until now, the 666Bet logo had appeared on Leyton Orient’s uniforms this season. That has led many to wonder if the Premier League sides that have worked with the firm will also look to back away from 666Bet as well.
As for Redknapp, he made it clear that he was just part of the company’s advertising campaign, and had no knowledge of what was happening at the company, with Bell, or with the investigation.
“I just did an advert for them,” Redknapp told the Independent. “I don’t know anything about it at all. Not a clue.”