Cricket Ireland apologises for any offence caused by advertising at Ireland-India games

Sport Ireland received complaints about a number of controversial gambling companies which had branding visible on advertising hoardings at Malahide

Sport Ireland has contacted Cricket Ireland to discuss sponsorship agreements after complaints from fans about advertisements visible at recent cricket matches between Ireland and India at Malahide, Co Dublin. The ads are for gambling companies accused of taking bets on children’s sport and promoting content of a sexual nature.

Sport Ireland received complaints about a number of gambling companies which had branding visible on advertising hoardings, the boundary rope and on television coverage of the three-match series which took place last month. In a statement, a Sport Ireland said it had discussed the issue with Cricket Ireland.

Cricket Ireland said it apologises “unreservedly” for “any offence inadvertently caused”.

One of the companies which had branding present at the ground, 1xBet, was suspended by the UK Gambling Commission in 2019 after a Sunday Times investigation said that it promoted a “pornhub casino”, which “entices gamblers with topless croupiers”.


The site was also accused of taking bets on children’s sports and cockfighting and of advertising on illegal websites.

1xBet did not respond to a comment request from The Irish Times, but previously told Sunday Times that its marketing partners overseas were responsible for some of the “dubious brand promotions and advertising on piracy websites”.

Other companies that featured on in-ground advertising hoardings during the Ireland cricket matches included SportsX9 and Kheloyar, which both display images of a sexual nature on their website. Two other websites, Khelraja and Six6s, both feature tabs labelled “sexy” gaming on their homepage.

Khelraja and SportsX9 did not respond to requests to comment. Kheloyar and Six6s sent automated responses which did not address queries.

In a statement, a Cricket Ireland spokesman said that “associated imagery used by the brands on their websites are not in keeping with the values of Cricket Ireland”.

The spokesman explained that in-ground advertising rights were sold to an agency in India which pays for the opportunity to enter into agreements with brands. According to the spokesman, there are contractual safeguards in place for the sponsorship of Ireland jerseys or naming rights of events which are “in line with Government and Sport Ireland guidelines, but ground rights signage is a separate matter”.

“The brands you reference are not sponsors of Cricket Ireland or the event, have a lower-level of visibility than the team/event sponsors, are not associated with Cricket Ireland outside of the event or at any other time. They also did not appear in our official match programme,” said the spokesman.

“However, we do fully appreciate that, to the casual observer, the distinction between sponsors and those merely entitled to signage within the stadium is an irrelevance, and all they might see is a sign at a cricket match. The brands used did not reflect well upon us – and once again we apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.”

Cricket Ireland said they are engaging with Sport Ireland on the matter of in-ground sponsors and are engaging with their commercial agency in India “with a view to providing us with greater control of the brands (in terms of their categories and creative executions) which appear in our venue”.

A Sport Ireland spokesman said that the organisation “is not a regulator,” but that it is currently working on a Charter for Irish Sport which will “more clearly define the values to be upheld in sport in Ireland”.

A spokesman for the Department of Sport said that Cricket Ireland is “an autonomous entity” and that the department has “no function to exercise in relation to the sponsorship arrangements entered into by such entities”.

Referencing the Gambling Regulation Bill currently being progressed in the Oireachtas by the Minister for Justice, the spokesman said that a new Gambling Regulatory Authority will have the power to impose “obligations relation to advertising, promotion and sponsorship for the purposes of safeguarding persons participating in gambling”.

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns

Nathan Johns is an Irish Times journalist