FGC Reacts to Controversial WePlay 1xBet Partnership
WePlay recently entered into a partnership with the Russian betting company 1xBet, and it sounds like people are very upset about this move. This came to light last night by Icege, an esports TO for Final Round and Commentator in the FGC. Having a serious esports organization/tournament partnering with an esports betting site is already fairly shady. But this isn’t a group that has a positive footprint on the internet, far from it. 1xBet is a fairly well-known company for shady dealings, and WePlay partnering with them seems to be far from the right play.
Get the Bag; Make Sure It Isn’t Stolen Though
One of the first things Icege points out is how a trio of Football Clubs – Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham were accused of trying to whitewash 1xBet’s reputation, which was already significantly tarnished.
According to The Times, 1xBet’s website in the UK was taken down after an investigation into their work. “The company’s UK website was taken down after a Sunday Times investigation into its global activities, which included promoting a “pornhub casino,” bets on children’s sports, and advertising on illegal websites. A pornhub casino entices gamblers with topless croupiers. The Gambling Commission confirmed this weekend that it has launched an investigation.”
None of this sounds like something you want to be affiliated with your brand. 1xBet is a betting site registered in Cyprus, which is well-known as a money-laundering location for organized crime in Russia. While sure, that could be a coincidence, but considering the previous investigation into 1xBet, it doesn’t sound like it is. After that Times investigation, the betting site is no longer allowed to operate in Britain.
WePlay did offer an official announcement of the 1xBet partnership, so it isn’t a big secret. “In our partnership with 1xBet, we are not limited to integrations into the broadcast of our tournaments. It is close cooperation and work aimed at creating new products, both within the esports market and beyond. For us, the partnership with 1xBet is about moving the industry forward and generating new cases that will be useful to both the market and our audience.”
It gets shadier, though. The alleged creators of 1xBet fled to Cyprus last year to avoid prosecution in Russia. The crime is allegedly the three (Roman Semiokhin, Dmitry Kazorin, Sergey Karshkov) were conducting gambling without a local license. According to reports, 1xBet’s website made 63 billion rubles ($860 million) from October 2014 to May 2019 while they were operating illegally.
After a little more research on Icege’s part, it appears that while WePlay claims to be an American company, the holding company for them, TECHIIA, is a Ukrainian company with an office in Cyprus. Curiously, none of the major companies like NetherRealm Software nor Bandai Namco discuss the WePlay and 1xBet partnership. We don’t see 1xBet in the logos for any major official tournaments, it seems.
Icege points out that it isn’t a call to boycott WePlay, but this is just a major problem. 1xBet is blocked when attempting to connect via VPNs in several places – Australia, Germany, USA, UK, Poland, and Belgium. This doesn’t seem like a smart move for WePlay, but it doesn’t sound like they’re backing down. It seems like a very strange decision for an esports tournament organizer backed by such a controversial company like 1xBet.