Bet365 takes heat in Pakistan over cricket livestreaming


bet365-pakistan-super-league-cricket-livestream-sports-bettingUK online sports betting giant Bet365 is in hot water once again for having the audacity to livestream sports matches via its betting app.

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s media outlets got their collective shalwar kameezes in a bunch after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) admitted that the UK-based Bet365 had the contractual rights to stream Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches via its global betting app.

Gambling of any form is strictly illegal in Pakistan, leaving the PCB scrambling to explain (a) why its marquee product has any connection whatsoever with one of the world’s most prominent bookmakers, and (b) why the PCB didn’t appear to know this until the media raised the issue.

The digital streaming rights were sold to Bet365 by Bangalore-based agency ITW Consulting Pvt Ltd, an affiliate of Global Sports Commerce that has a deal to manage media rights for the PCB. The PCB stated that “an international company” had been granted the rights to three PSL seasons and had awarded the livestreaming rights to Bet365 “without following the due approval process.”

That allegedly rigorous approval process doesn’t appear to have dissuaded the PCB from striking a broadcast sponsorship deal in 2019 with MyTeam11, a real-money daily fantasy sports site based in India.

If all of the above sounds familiar, it’s because Bet365 recently found itself under similarly hyperbolic criticism in the UK due to the company livestreaming FA Cup matches via its betting app following a perfectly above board deal with sports rights agency IMG.

Despite the UK being one of the planet’s most mature legal betting markets, Bet365 and other bookmakers bowed to the media furore and rejected any claim to exclusivity over future Football Association livestreams.

Betting may be illegal in Pakistan but it’s also wildly popular, particularly on local sports like cricket that have mass appeal. With no legal options at their disposal, Pakistan’s bettors can either wager with a corner bookie or check out any number of internationally licensed online betting options, including Bet365.

When it’s not busy scandalizing the Asian subcontinent, Bet365 is also a money-printing machine, which may at least partly explain its very generous offer to keep its thousands of staff on the payroll despite the ongoing hit to their business from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Late last week, the Stoke-based Bet365 informed its nearly 4,400 employees that they needn’t fear redundancy despite the utter lack of sports and racing events on which the company depends to keep its punters active. Moreover, staff – including those toiling at the Coates family-owned Stoke City Football Club – have been assured that they will continue to be paid in full at least through August.

The Stoke Sentinel quoted a Bet365 spokesperson saying the company’s employees “have been instrumental in our success” and thus the company felt it was “essential that we reassured our people of the commitment we have to them and the wider community.”