Posted on: January 23, 2023, 12:05h.
Last updated on: January 23, 2023, 09:04h.
Online sports betting platform 1xBet has a long and checkered history. That includes allegations of direct ties to Russia, all the way up to President Vladimir Putin. This hasn’t prevented it from finding high-profile sponsorship deals with sports teams over the years. But a court’s ruling that it’s officially bankrupt could change everything.
1xBet has partnered with sports teams around the globe, and most notably, it has been a sponsor of soccer teams FC Barcelona in Spain and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in France. The Barcelona football giant recently rejected calls that it end its relationship with the company following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, despite its high-profile dealings, the sports betting operator reportedly spent more than it took in as it tried to position itself in the global market. It ran out of money last year and is now facing definitive court action that could bring it to an end. This was after it had already faced forced exits in the UK and other countries.
A History of Scandal
1XCorp, the owner of 1XBet, was declared bankrupt by a court in Curaçao last year. The company appealed to the Netherlands Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over Curaçao, in an effort to protect itself against legal action.
The Netherlands Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling last week, according to the Curaçao News, after it considered the complaints against the lower court’s verdict. As a result, the Supreme Court concluded that the arguments can’t lead to the annulment of the judgment, and therefore, it dismissed 1XCorp’s appeal.
The Foundation for Representation of Victims of Online Gaming filed a lawsuit on behalf of customers who claim ANG6 million (US$3.3 million) in winnings the company still owes them. In addition, it is believed that more than 200 customers are suing 1XBet in Russia after the company lost its license to operate there. Parlan, a Moscow-based legal firm, is reportedly leading that suit.
Three exiled Russians living in Cyprus are widely believed to be behind the company. Roman Semiokhin, Dmitry Kazorin, and Sergey Karshkov all have sordid pasts, but have never been held accountable for their actions.
Last December, Brazilian soccer pro Dani Alves, who has played for Barcelona and PSG, became its ambassador. That might soon end, as police in Barcelona arrested him last Friday. They received a complaint that he allegedly sexually assaulted a waitress in a bar.
In addition, 1xBet has signed sponsorship deals in South America and Africa. Primarily, the company seeks deals in countries where regulations are loose or nonexistent. It is also active in India, where the government has accused it of not paying taxes.
Chasing 1xBet’s ties to Russia
The nature of the relationship between the sportsbook and the Russian regime is still open for debate. However, evidence suggests it has links to Putin.
A Ukranian activist, “Peter M,” recently uncovered information that ties the company to Putin, which he shared with Casino.org. He alleged that, in addition to Putin, there are others profiting from 1xBet’s illegal activities. Among these are Russian intelligence forces, Putin’s family, corrupt bankers, and others in Russia and Cyprus.
1xBet, according to the investigation, is active in Italy and Spain. In both, the company has reportedly received a license from the countries’ gaming regulators. By tracking down names of individuals from in-country business registries and cross-referencing them with other databases, Peter was able to make the connections.
For example, Terminus Platform is a company in Madrid, Spain. The same company is the owner of 1xBet in Italy, and the director of both companies is Perrin Vazquez Yago-Marcel, a lawyer who allegedly tried to scam consumers as part of a lawsuit against bet365.
The registered office for Terminus Platform isn’t a single-occupancy space. Instead, it points to a company that rents space to other companies by the hour, day, week, or month. Spain’s gaming regulator refused to comment when Casino.org reached out.
In Italy, media outlet Rai reported on the link between 1xBet and Serie A soccer late last year. While it still maintains the webpage about the deal, it has removed the video exposé from its website.
A number of complaints about 1XBet not paying its customers have appeared on social media over the years. The company has repeatedly received bad reviews and criticism, but this hasn’t stopped it from being able to find support in the sports community.
1xBet, on one level or another, has ties to Russia. It has even attempted to maintain operations in Ukraine, despite Russian sanctions.
Last October, Ukraine’s gaming regulator came forward and raised additional concerns about the company. It said 1xBet, through shell platforms MelBet, PointLoto, FanSport, and BetWinner, was illegally mining user data.