Eva’s Saudi temptations

Sportradar’s in-play data from matches in Saudi Arabia, where gambling is illegal, is appearing on betting websites. How do data collected by the self-declared “global integrity leader” end up on illegal betting markets?

By Sam Kunti

It is perhaps the above image, a screenshot taken from the Brazilian edition of 1XBet, the controversial Russian-Cypriot betting operator, that illustrates the ills of the sports betting industry best: four matches of the Saudi Pro League (SPL), including Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq and Karim Benzema’s Al Ittihad, are offered in-play on 29 March. The matches’ data is collected by data companies and sold to legal and, so it seems, illegal operators around the world, who often employ ambassadors to promote their brands. 

On the website’s top banner, Eva Elfie, one of Russia’s leading pornstars with millions of followers on social media, is encouraging bettors and potential new consumers to take a punt. On her Instagram, she last promoted 1XBet in Serbia in November 2023 at an event of Aurora CS2, a gaming team. Elfie also advertised for 1XBet on the sidelines of that year’s Champions League final in Istanbul, sporting a Manchester City top, posting the hashtag 1XEva and thanking the English fans for a great day out.  

So how do matches of the SPL and other domestic matches from the Arab kingdom end up offered in-play by a poorly regulated operator, to be promoted by a pornstar? 1XBet have a licence issued by Curaçao, the Caribbean island, through a company called Caecus NV, which took over from bankrupt 1XCorp.

In Saudi Arabia,...

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