Betfair turns its back on Russia, launches Italian ring-fenced exchange

betfair-italy-russiaOnline betting exchange Betfair has taken a couple new steps to conform to CEO Breon Corocran’s policy of focusing on revenue from ‘sustainable’ markets. The shift, first announced in December 2012, led to the company’s exits from previously lucrative ‘grey’ market revenue sources such as Cyprus, Germany and Greece. Betfair had promised an exit from Russia was in the cards and the company now says it will stop accepting new signups from the country effective Friday, April 11.

According to a communication sent to Betfair affiliates, the changes were prompted by “recent developments within the Russian market.” Before you go assuming Betfair’s servers were all located in the Crimea, the company is likely referring to Mother Russia’s recent additions to its online gambling blacklist. Said list didn’t actually include Betfair, but clearly Corcoran has little desire to play chicken with Vladmir Putin. Betfair says it will continue to honor existing affiliate deals, but the company is dropping all Russian-facing marketing and Russian will no longer be spoken on

In other Betfair news, the company has officially launched its dedicated betting exchange in Italy. The company’s .it site has been offering poker, casino and sports betting for some time now but the Italian government’s acceptance of exchange betting has been a long time coming. Now, after extensive testing, local regulators have signed off on the ring-fenced exchange, which will be taxed at a rate of 20% on commissions. Corcoran celebrated being the first operator to launch a licensed Italian exchange and predicted the launch would mark “an important step in our drive to grow sustainable revenues.” Sure, until some Russian tourist stubs his toe while visiting the Colosseum and Putin decides to invade Rome…