The June issue of SpiceJet’s in-flight magazine ‘Spice Route’ has a full-page advertisement of illegal betting website 1xBet on its back cover. The promotion is being done in partnership with SpiceJet and the banned betting website is offering welcome bonus of up to Rs 26,000 if Spicejet’s code is used at the time of registration.
It is surprising to see that the airline chose to partner with an entity which cannot operate in the country legally. Interestingly, the advertisement is directly related to the banned betting platform instead of its surrogate brand which generally is the practice. These illegal entities do not normally partner with or sponsor commercial properties directly but use their surrogate arms to do so.
1xBet is a banned offshore gambling platform that is promoting itself under its surrogate brand 1XBAT in India. The illegal betting firm, most recently, was spotted as one of the sponsors of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) team Lyca Kovai Kings through its surrogate arm. Incidentally, several other illegal and banned betting website surrogates were also the sponsors of some of the other teams.
Betting and gambling are strictly prohibited in India and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has released multiple advisories asking media outlets to desist from publishing advertisements of illegal betting platforms and their surrogate brands.
Despite that, the advertisements are still being seen prominently in print and on social media with several prominent celebrities directly promoting these banned betting platforms. On the other hand, the surrogate platforms usually try to influence visitors to use their betting services, luring them with huge returns.
1xBet, through its surrogate brand 1xBAT, has been involved in cricket sponsorships abroad as well. It was a jersey sponsor of Karachi Kings for Pakistan Super League (PSL) season 8 which was held earlier this year. Just like in India, gambling and betting are banned in Pakistan as well, as per the Prevention of Gambling Act, 1977.