Mukesh Ambani owned MI Cape Town gets illegal betting website as principal sponsor

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MI Cape Town, the affiliate team of iconic five time IPL champions Mumbai Indians unveiled the jersey today. MI Cape Town and Mumbai Indians are both owned by India’s second richest person Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Industries.

MI Cape Town is one of six teams in SA 20 league commencing next month where all the remaining teams are also owned by IPL team owners. SA 20 is a second attempt from South African cricket board to start a IPL styled T20 league.

Raising eyebrows, the MI Cape Town jersey featured Pari Match as principal sponsor. The Ukrainian website operates illegal betting and casino portals targeting Indians.

This should not be an issue in India except for the fact that all six teams are owned by IPL team owners and rivalry from IPL is expected to be carried on to this league. The league is expected to have significant Indian audience watching through live broadcast considering the favourable time zone and team rivalries.

The betting portal featuring on MI branded jersey can create a sense of reliability and trust including on the legality aspects.

Few tweets also feature Rashid Khan (MI Cape Town captain) alongside Indian cricket team captain and Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma showcasing MI brand as one family. Now assume the marketing impact in India when Rashid Khan wearing a Pari Match jersey and featuring along side Rohit Sharma.

Additionally, Cricket South Africa has signed a multi-year deal with offshore betting and gambling company Betway as its title sponsor.

Online betting is licensed and legal in South Africa but it is not clear if Pari Match and Betway have a betting license from South African authorities.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued two advisories directing print and digital media to refrain from promoting or advertising online betting and gambling platforms. In October, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology blocked access to several domains including Pari Match.

With SA 20 situation, Viacom18 which is the broadcaster of SA20 may have to disregard the government advisories to broadcast the league as it features offshore betting platforms prominently. Interestingly, even Viacom18 is owned by Reliance Industries.