Sri Lanka: Sports minister bashes cricket board for onboarding illegal betting surrogates as sponsors

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The Sri Lankan men’s cricket team has crashed out of the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023 which is being held in India. The performance of the team has had repercussions for the national cricket body, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), with its secretary Mohan de Silva resigning from his position on November 4. Not only the performance of the team but the SLC has also faced criticism from the country’s sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe on a number of counts.

Among them is allowing illegal betting and gambling surrogate brands as sponsors for national and international tournaments. Not only that, these brands have also sponsored the national team recently during the Asia Cup. It is to be noted that betting and gambling are prohibited in the island nation.

In a letter to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ranasinghe wrote “The Sri Lanka Cricket Board’s present leadership has made choices that have resulted in considerable damage to the organization. Various Sri Lankan players have faced allegations of involvement in match-fixing schemes, and there has been a public backlash against Sri Lanka Cricket’s perceived promotion of a culture of betting and gambling”.

“The organization’s decision to allow such entities to participate in the Lanka Premier League has been met with criticism as Betting and Gambling is a strictly restrained business while promoting related activities is illegal by several acts of Parliament,” the letter further read as per The Daily Mirror.

Betting and gambling brands continue promotions in India

The menace of illegal betting and gambling surrogate brands sponsoring small-scale sports events is widespread in India, too. While major leagues are now refraining from onboarding these surrogate brands, there are numerous examples of local or state-level tournaments having surrogates as sponsors.

Brands like 1xBet, Fairplay and many others use celebrities to promote their surrogate platforms on social media to lure fans. They further entice them with joining bonus and redirect them to their illegal sports betting platforms.

While the government has started taking strict actions, it is nowhere near at a pace to completely curb these activities. In order to put a stop to these activities, the government might need some strict guidelines and proper regulatory framework.