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Tweet Top image: a screen shot of a bet pop-up advert on a streaming website Pop-up adverts on illegal TV streaming websites are usually the domain of get-rich-quick scams, "The Brit Method" and horny housewives looking to hook-up in your area, but legitimate companies are also using the seedier side of the web to advertise their services.
Betting firms, including Bet and Sky Bet, are in part funding TV piracy sites, such as Watch Series, by paying for pop-up advertising on the sites. Streaming sites like Watch Series attempt to circumvent copyright regulation by providing links to pirated content, without actually hosting the content themselves.
They exist in a legal grey area by acting as a conduit between pirated content and viewers. However, they are regularly targeted by anti-piracy operations, often changing domain names to avoid being blocked by internet service providers.
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It is a game of cat and mouse that piracy sites are currently winning, despite a recent agreement between Google, Microsoft and the UK Intellectual Property Office to move infringing sites further down search results. Authorities are determined to stop copyright infringing sites operating so openly because of the scale of the illegal profits they make.
The Gambling Commission, which regulates British betting firms, is also involved in the initiative.
The commission is in charge of handing out gambling licences in accordance with its regulations — but is also funded by the industry through fees set by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The spokesperson confirmed to VICE that as part of their regulations "gambling operators must not advertise on websites which provide unauthorised access to copyrighted content", but a number of firms do not appear to be paying attention.
There was no suggestion from the commission that any licenses will be revoked, despite continued breach of regulation by gambling firms.
Marc Etches, CEO of charity Gamble Aware, argues that because the industry is largely self-regulated, through the code of practice drawn up between businesses and the Gambling Commission, there are issues with advertising in the gambling industry.
So there certainly are some gaps in it.
However, by advertising on illegal streaming websites, betting firms have found an area to advertise in that is, by nature of its illegality, free from regulation. A bwin advert on First Row Sports Offending companies are not just advertising on TV piracy websites, with illegal sports streaming sites also playing host to numerous gambling adverts.
Watch Wrestling, which provides free links to wrestling shows and pay-per-views, has adverts for Bet, while popular live sports streaming site First Row Sports has adverts for Austrian gambling firm Bwin embedded in many of its livestreams.
Whether drawing in punters through "affiliated" betting tipsters who drum up business through Twitter, or refusing to pay out to persistent winners, betting firms are adept at exploiting the grey areas in regulation to ensure the house always wins.
SkyBet, bet and Bwin did not respond to numerous requests for comment.