Despite four advisories and other regulatory steps from the government, illegal gambling advertisements and sponsorships are still rampant across the country.
Illegal offshore betting companies, through their surrogate brands, target domestic sports leagues as there are enough fans to dupe while not enough eyes to lead to serious repercussions. The most popular of all sporting events are cricket leagues as the country has millions of passionate fans of the sport.
The ongoing Saurashtra Premier League (SPL) has onboarded a couple of surrogate brands as its official sponsors. These include SkyFair and Parimatch News, the latter being the surrogate brand of banned betting website Parimatch.
Not only the league, but the teams are also sponsored by illegal betting brands. Halar Heroes can be seen sporting a 1xBat logo, while Gohilwad Gladiators display an MDExch247 logo. Similarly, Kutch Warriors are sponsored by Betway Scores, and Sorath Lions, along with Gohilwad Gladiators, are sponsored by Sky11.
All of these websites are still operating illegally in India by hopping domains to bypass the ban. Their surrogate brands come in the form of sports news websites or sportswear brands.
Even though gambling is strictly prohibited under the Public Gambling Act, 1867, promotions of the same are still taking place on a daily basis as these illegal betting platforms operate from countries with no gambling and tax laws.
Prior to SPL, illegal betting companies and their surrogates were also spotted as sponsors of teams participating in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) 2023 season. Likewise, Maharaja T20 Trophy, which concludes today, has also welcomed these surrogate betting brands as sponsors.
Notably, all these state T20 leagues have the blessings of the BCCI which itself does not entertain bids from betting and gambling brands for its entities.
When it comes to action being taken, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued its fourth advisory only last week in its attempt to curb illegal betting websites and their surrogates’ promotions and sponsorships. The Centre is also planning to issue an advisory for influencers as social media outlets are the hotpots of these illegal betting platforms’ promotions.
People unsure of which platforms are illegal can check the list here.