December 11, 2023

England Cricket Board in talks with McCullum over controversial gambling ad campaign

Brendon McCullum in a 22Bet ad.

Blackcaps great and England test coach Brendon McCullum’s involvement with betting organisation 22Bet has caught the attention of the England and Wales Cricket board.

According to reports from British media, the ECB is talking to McCullum about his relationship with the Cyprus-based company, after a formal complaint was made by the Problem Gambling Foundation to the Department of Internal Affairs regarding an online ad he features in.

“We are exploring the matter and are in discussions with Brendon around his relationship with 22Bet,” the ECB told the BBC.

“We have rules in place around gambling and will always seek to ensure these are followed.”

The ECB clarified McCullum is not under investigation.

The adverts show McCullum in a sports car in the desert amid a setting sun, calling himself the “brand ambassador for 22Bet”.

The Problem Gambling Foundation claims the ads for 22Bet have been “aggressively marketed” over the past month on YouTube.

Google has reportedly pulled the ads from YouTube for violating their policies.

“The past week or so, I’ve noticed some aggressive advertisements on YouTube from 22Bet, which is a Cyprus-based betting operator,” the complaint from the Problem Gambling Foundation to the DIA read. 

“Most times I go to watch a video, an ad from 22Bet is played, saying that they are “legal bookers” and incentivising joining their platform with either a NZ$250 or NZ$750 sign-up bonus.

“Concerningly, Brendon McCullum is the brand ambassador for 22Bet, which legitimises and endorses the platform for Kiwi audiences.”

DIA has responded to the complaint by confirming that the adverts would be illegal if they had come from an NZ-based source rather than a global platform like YouTube.

They’re also being indiscriminately pushed to all users via fake accounts rather than being targeted to suitable demographics using YouTube data, which means children are also being presented with the adverts.

Although the DIA agreed such websites could expose users to fraud, it said it had limited jurisdiction over overseas-based companies.

“Currently, the prohibition does not apply to gambling conducted overseas and it is not illegal for a person in New Zealand to gamble with an overseas gambling provider over the internet,” it said.

“As 22Bet is conducted overseas, and as YouTube is an international website not specifically hosted within NZ, any advertisements displayed on these platforms would not be prohibited under the Act. 

“If 22Bet was being advertised through an NZ-based content provider, then the advertising would be illegal.”

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