888.ru sports betting site launches in Russia; new online lottery restrictions?

russia-888-ru-sports-betting-siteRussia has its second officially licensed online sports betting operator following the launch of 888.ru.

As promised, Russia’s leading lottery operator Stoloto has debuted its 888.ru online betting site, which, despite the name, has nothing to do with UK-listed online gambling operator 888 Holdings, a similarity that we’re assured is entirely coincidental. (What’s Russian for ‘ahem’?)

The 888.ru site operates on a Betconstruct platform and under a license originally granted to Russian bookmaker 23Bet. The site is offering a RUB 2k (US $30) free bet offer to encourage punters to sign up.

888.ru is part of the First SRO bookmakers association, whose members are required to use the TSUPIS centralized hub to process online gambling transactions. 888.ru requires new users to undergo a three-state registration process; opening an account online, then registering with TSUPIS, then confirming their identity via Skype.

Liga Stavok, another First SRO member and Russia’s first licensed online bookie, requires its customers to complete the final stage of the registration process by presenting their passport in person at one of its retail shops. 888.ru’s comparatively easier process appears to offer an out for future licensees who may lack a retail presence.

The First SRO’s TSUPIS will welcome its third member later this year. Moscow-based Sportbet, which has the honor of holding bookmaking License No. 1 issued by Russia’s Federal Tax Service in 2009, inked a deal on June 14 to start conducting online payments via TSUPIS sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Stoloto may have branched out into online sports betting but its online lottery site may be due for a haircut. Russia’s TASS news agency reported that legislators have proposed a draft bill that would prohibit online sales of non-draw lottery games.

The Duma members who proposed the draft bill argue that the existing legislation is vague on what exactly constitutes a non-draw lottery, which they claim has opened the door to illegal operators offering prohibited products such as online slots.