Motion Picture Association Adds Russia’s 1xBet to ‘Notorious Markets’ List

  • Russia's online gambling giant 1xBet hit with significant global video piracy claims
  • First gambling operator added to US's Motion Picture Association's "Notorious Markets" list
  • Piracy claims follow 1xBet's ouster from UK market following illegal advertising issues
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1xBet is assailed by the Motion Picture Association over video piracy weeks after being forced out of the UK over illegal advertising practices. [Image: 1xBet.com]

MPA cites rampant video piracy

The US-based Motion Picture Association (MPA) has added 1xBet to its list of “Notorious Markets” in response to the Russian online gambling operators ongoing practice of inserting advertising into pirated videos promoted widely around the globe.

1xBet was one of two new entities added to the MPA’s annual update to the US Trade Representative on the topic of global piracy, along with Chinese search portal Baidu.

The MPA stated that 1xBet “is knowingly and routinely advertising its services through display ads on piracy sites and by burning ads for its services into the underlying infringing video files.” 1xBet is the first gambling entity added to the MPA’s list of severe pirating threats, which now lists 46 such entities.

1xBet banner ads appeared on at least 1,200 “pirate” video sites from March through August of 2019

TorrentFreak, a copyright news outlet, recently cited brand protection specialist White Bullet as stating that 1xBet banner ads appeared on at least 1,200 “pirate” video sites from March through August of 2019. Also noted were the presence of 1xBet ads that are watermark embedded into so-called “cam” copies of the pirated works. These cam ads imply that 1xBet actively altered and redistributed the stolen content.

According to the MPA: “Reportedly, the online casino pays to insert visual and audio advertisements into new piracy content sources incentivizing camcord and livestreaming piracy. 1xBet’s watermark with promotion codes is ‘burned’ into the video files of infringing camcord recordings. Thus, piracy is used as a vehicle to support this online gambling giant.”

Supporting “earliest” pirate releases

The MPA’s annual update to the USTR asserts that 1xBet and its collaborators are supporting the earliest known appearances of pirated content on underground sites. The accusations also include stolen livestreams from other online providers. Those streams are then framed within 1xBet advertising and redistributed to pirate platforms.

accusations also include stolen livestreams from other online providers

1xBet also advertises its services prominently through traditional channels. The MPA cites research showing that the gambling operator is the third most advertised entity in Russia, trailing only Google and PepsiCo.

Video piracy is a huge economic concern for the five major film studios comprising the MPA. The MPA’s letter notes that in 2017 alone, the American motion picture and television industry supported 2.6 million jobs and $177 billion in total wages.

Deepening black hole for 1xBet

1xBet’s latet piracy issues add to the company’s woes in regulated gambling markets.

Last month, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) ordered three Premier League football clubs — Liverpool, Chelsea FC, and Tottenham Hotspur — to terminate their advertising deals with 1xBet.

The Russian firm’s UK gambling license previously had been suspended by the UKGC for advertising on forbidden sites. Instead of complying with UK rules, 1xBet chose to continue its practices while surrendering its UK license.

A similar situation involving 1xBet continues to simmer in Italy. That country’s Serie A football league launched an anti-piracy campaign but has yet to fully confront 1xBet’s role there as a major corporate sponsor.