Bankrupt but business as usual: the clandestine operations of rogue operator 1xBet continue

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1xBet, the controversial and rogue offshore betting website, was declared bankrupt by the Dutch Supreme Court earlier this week. Incorporated in Curacao, a Dutch island in the Caribbean, the betting brand has roots in Russia and Latvia.

1xBet was founded in 2007 and initially registered in Cyprus before shifting base to Curacao. As of 2021, the betting website was blacklisted by the Russian Federal Tax Service and payment processors. It was also in the centre of the controversial “pornhub casino” case in 2019, which resulted in it getting blacklisted by the UK Gambling Commission and shutting down of the UK version of the website.

The brand has a licence from Curacao government that allows it to offer bets around the world but is illegal according to laws of India.

The betting brand through surrogate brands has sponsored several high profile sports in the Indian subcontinent where betting and gambling is illegal. The sponsorship includes a bilateral cricket series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The brand operates through clandestine structures in India and around the world. Despite bankruptcy of one of its corporate entities, the brand appears to have not been impacted. It continues to sponsor high profile sports teams. In the recently commenced SA20, the betting portal sponsors Durban SuperGiants, a sister franchise of IPL-based Lucknow SuperGiants. In India, former top cricketers Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh promote the surrogate brand 1xbat.

According to reports, the bankruptcy will have little impact on the operations, as 1xBet doesn’t even hold a bank account in the Dutch overseas territory, making any meaningful legal action extremely difficult. The government of Curacao may attempt to seize the company’s foreign capital, which may lead to another legal battle that could go on for years, according to Dutch website Joshimar.

Earlier in October 2021, an operator of 1xBet in Russia was sentenced to prison for operating without a license. However, this didn’t impact the operations of the shady portal in that country.

Operating under the brand 1xBat –  ‘professional sportsblog’, it has launched a marketing overdrive in India with cricketers, until the Indian government intervened through an advisory in October, stating the surrogate advertisements could be violating laws.