Skyesports recently announced the latest partners to its ongoing CS:GO Masters esports tournament and gamers across India are not happy. This unhappiness and concern arise from the fact that the latest sponsor for Skyesports Masters is a gambling company. This comes right around the time when Indian gaming industry is working hard to create a clear distinction between games and gambling in front of the government. More than forty game developers banded together to appeal to the Government of India earlier this year.
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Skyesports partner with a gambling company
In a disappointing turn of events, Skyesports has partnered with 1XBET, a banned gambling website for its ongoing CS:GO Masters esports tournament. This online gambling company is known to sponsor several teams and leagues in sports such as Football and UFC. The news about a gambling company sponsoring a major esports tournament does not sit well with anyone.
Popular games industry analyst, Rishi Alwani has also shared some choice words regarding Skyesports’ latest partnership. Alwani has shared his discontent on Twitter stating, “taking money from gambling companies at a time when the government thinks gambling = gaming, the rest of us are trying to change that but ffs, is beyond stupid”.
Considering the efforts from the overall industry to move away from this while other gambling and betting apps have tried to mislead the government and public into believing that gambling equals gaming, this move from Skyesports is quite puzzling.
Furthermore, G2G has also shared that 1XBET’s domain was banned in India along with other betting and gambling apps in February 2023, “under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000”. Hence, the company has been sponsoring events and teams in India through their surrogate brand called 1XBAT, which operates as a “sports blog”. It was recently seen sponsoring the Tamil Nadu Premier League.
Moreover, 1XBET is not new to controversy, the company has already been blacklisted by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission in 2019, according to a report by The Times. They were banned as the investigation entailed that 1XBET allowed users to place bets on children sports, they were advertising on illegal websites and promoting a “pornhub casino”.
As pointed out by one of the Twitter users in Alwani’s thread, Sorcerer, the three creators of 1XBET are wanted in Russia. Roman Semiokhin, Dmitry Kazorin and Sergey Karshkov are wanted in Russia for “Illegal organization and conduct of gambling”, according to report by Russian website RBC.
IGN India reached out to Skyesports asking them to share comments on the current situation. We inquired what made them tie up with a banned gambling entity. As part of the query, we also asked what made them move ahead with this partnership at a time when the Indian gaming industry is trying to prove the difference between gaming and gambling to the government. Beyond this we also asked the company about its current stance on the distinction between gambling/betting and esports. To which we received “no comment on this” as a response.
Skyesports Masters Finals LAN location
Skyesports also noted that Koramangala Indoor Stadium, Bangalore will be the venue for the LAN finals. This will be the first LAN esports event in India at a stadium since 2019 and will be held on August 26 and 27, 2023. Fans in Bangalore will be able to experience the action in-person including the Skyesports Award Ceremony at absolutely no cost. As part of the ceremony, the top teams of Skyesports Champions Series BGMI like Blind Esports and Team Soul will be felicitated.
The esports tournament organizer did not share the announcement of 1XBET with IGN India. In addition, it also skipped the mention of the partnership while announcing the indoor venue for the LAN finals. We could not spot the announcement on social media accounts of either the Skyesports or the gambling app. It is likely that the company wanted for most people to not notice the partnership with the banned gambling platform.
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