Bengaluru Open signs surrogate website of illegal offshore betting company as title sponsor

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Bengaluru Open, one of the three ATP Challenger tennis tournaments hosted in India, has announced DafaNews, a surrogate website for the illegal offshore betting company DafaBet, as the title sponsor for the next three years of the competition.

The Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) has been organising the Bengaluru Open since 2015. The sponsorship agreement with DafaNews will go into effect with the forthcoming 2023 edition of the which will start on February 20. Despite the I&B ministry issuing advisories last year asking print, electronic and digital media to refrain from promoting these illegal betting platforms the organisers have gone ahead with signing up DafaNews.

DafaBet is an online sports betting platform that operated illegally in India. The company does not have a registered office in India and operates from Makati in the Philippines through surrogate websites.

Recently, DafaBet and other surrogate website domains were banned by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) along with other 137 illegal betting and gambling websites under the Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

DafaBet was also one of the major sponsors of Bengaluru FC from 2018-19. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has found several instances of DafaBet being involved in shady online betting.

In 2019, DafaBet was found involved with a Delhi-based company ‘Betrue Ecom Solutions’ for illegal sports betting during IPL 2019. Upon investigation, it was found that the betting was disguised as online trading of footwear. According to the CBI, the investigation revealed transactions worth around Rs 23.33 crore, which coincidentally took place during the IPL matches.

According to reports, illegal offshore betting websites including DafaBet spend a huge amount of money on marketing and advertisements along with on celebrity endorsements. All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) estimated the spending to be around Rs 4000 crore annually.

Most of these illegal offshore betting companies are based out of countries which are regarded as tax havens. This allows them to maximize profits from unsuspecting gamers.