GAB asks MPBL to explain OKBet partnership

GAB asks MPBL to explain OKBet partnership

GAB is asking the MPBL about the legality of its partnership with OKBet. Ivan Saldajeno (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Games and Amusements Board is seeking an explanation from the MPBL regarding its partnership with OKBet for its ongoing fourth season.

GAB Chairman Baham Mitra confirmed on Monday that they sent a letter to the league for them to air their side of the story regarding the partnership with the sports betting app.

"Our new lawyer Atty. Lorraine Rodriguez already drafted a letter. We sent them a formal letter today explaining the presence of OKBet in the MPBL commercials," Mitra said in the Sports on Air Weekly podcast. "We want to find out kung ano ang authority and legal basis ng MPBL to allow this betting website to advertise in the league premises and in their posts."

According to the outgoing GAB chief, the MPBL-OKBet partnership is an intriguing sight considering that the other existing professional sports leagues are not endorsing a certain sports betting platform.

"As you can see, in the PBA, the Premier Volleyball League, and the PSL, wala kang nakikitang sports betting website doon," Mitra added.

Considering that the MPBL is having two nationally televised games per week being shown on cable channel One PH, Mitra said that he also consulted the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board regarding this matter and he was referred to the Ad Standards Council.

"We have already written the MTRCB. Ang sinasabi, may ASC. [Sabi ng ASC], pwede, pero mag-paalam muna. Ang problema, itong OKBet, mukhang hindi yata nakakapagpaalam," Mitra revealed.

He added that he does not want any issue to arise from the new MPBL-OKBet partnership considering that while this has been a practice overseas, the laws about it are different from the Philippine law.

Mitra then admitted that he had no idea that the MPBL has forged a partnership with OKBet until he watched a game where the sports betting app's logo was seen in advertisements.

"Nakita na lang namin sa isang poster nila sa ilalim ng basket. Di ba may cushion doon? May isang tarpaulin doon, so nakikita sa TV yun. Tapos may award na binibigay sila. Yun ang sponsor," he added.

Mitra then said that if the MPBL fails to prove the legality of the new partnership, GAB might prompt the league to call it off.

"Kung wala silang legal basis, then we will ask them to put it out," Mitra further said.

Sports betting has been the top reason behind recent game-fixing schemes locally, so GAB wants to make sure that the MPBL's integrity will not be compromised with the OKBet partnership.

Mitra even said that the MPBL can crack down game-fixing on its own without the help of OKBet.

"You can do that without doing sports betting," he further quipped.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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