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Foxtel under fire for broadcasting ads for illegal offshore betting companies

The federal communications watchdog is examining whether Foxtel breached gambling laws by broadcasting ads for two illegal offshore betting companies during last week’s test cricket match between Australia and New Zealand. 

The ads included a prominently placed “virtual billboard” on the playing field for Parimatch, a Cyprus-based online casino and bookmaker the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blocked to internet users in 2022 after an investigation found it was illegally offering unlicensed gambling to Australians.

The broadcast also featured electronic barrier ads for 1xBat, a website that automatically directs users to a offshore bookmaker called 1xBet, which was among a number of international gambling sites that ABC Investigations revealed last year was offering odds on amateur Australian cricket matches.

1xBet was previously a sponsor of English Premier League clubs Chelsea and Liverpool until its UK registration was cancelled following media reports in the UK that revealed it was offering bets on children’s sport, cockfighting, and topless casinos.

Advertisements for 1xBat, a website directs to 1xBet, were seen on electronic barriers during last week’s match. 

1xBet has been blocked in Australia since an ACMA investigation found it was offering an illegal gambling service in 2018, however, it is still accessible via virtual private network (VPN) services that allow users to change their location.

The ads appeared throughout Fox Sports and Kayo’s broadcast of the match in Wellington and were commissioned by New Zealand Cricket (NZC), which has responsibility for broadcasting advertising rights for matches played on its soil.

After the ABC alerted ACMA to the advertisements, the regulator said it was examining the matter “but is yet to make a decision on whether to open an investigation”.