Betting companies or news portals: the story behind disguised PSL sponsors
If you are following the Pakistan Super League, you must have come across some sponsors like 1XBAT, MCW Sports, Wolf777News, BJ Sports, and MelBat.
They seem familiar or we can say a near-perfect copy of the names of some known betting sites. With any kind of betting is illegal in Pakistan under the Gambling Act 1977. It only permits betting to licensed “tourist complexes” but only to foreigners.
This leaves a big question, how did they get in? For starters, the aforementioned sponsors are not the betting companies at all they are ‘registered’ sports websites.
This all started when Sky247.net joined the ranks at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in 2021. They came as a sponsor for the remaining leg of the Pakistan Super League, which was halted due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
This was the first time when a website with a similar name to a betting platform ‘Sky247’, came into the limelight in Pakistan.
However, some journalists and social media users are claiming that the aforementioned platforms are owned by betting sites, with similar names. However, there are no documents available to back their claims.
Hamid Mir, a renowned name in the Pakistan media industry, criticised the move on Twitter by saying that the Indian government is not ready to play cricket in Pakistan but Indian sponsors are very active in PSL8 because they are making money here.
For example, dafaNEWS is one of the main sponsors of the PSL. It is said to be owned by ‘dafabet’.
Karachi Kings have 1XBAT as their Titanium sponsor for the PSL8. It is allegedly a surrogate brand of a betting website, 1xbet. Similarly, defending champions Lahore Qalandars are sponsored by Melbat, which is a sports site operating from melbat.live. However, if you search melbat, the first Google search results show Melbet, which is a betting website.
Quetta Gladiators have teamed up with MCW Sports which is again an allegedly surrogate website for CasinoMWC. They also have BJ Sports, which social media users claimed to be a surrogate website for Baji Casino.
Wolf777News is the sponsor for Multan Sultans. It is again allegedly a surrogate brand of Wolf777 – an online casino website.
Recently, former Test captain for Pakistan, Rashid Latif, slammed the PCB for allegedly enabling franchises to sign surrogate advertising contracts.
“This year betting advertisement has become more prominent and no one really cares because everyone is looking to earn from the PSL,” he had said in an interview. “It is also happening in international cricket and other leagues.”
Not only that he then took to Twitter to criticise the board for allowing such sponsors.
Natasha Uderani on Twitter wrote that they took a page out of the Clark Kent book of disguises.
If you are a PSL fan, chances are your team is sponsored by a betting company disguising itself as a news platform, Mutaher Khan wrote on Twitter.
The similar kind of practice is being followed in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where betting is also banned.
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