Russia has another legal online sports betting option following the launch of Leon.ru.
This week brought word that Russian bookmaker Leon, which operates over 300 retail betting points of sale, had begun accepting online wagers via its Leon.ru site. The site operates under Federal Tax Service License #20, which was issued to Leon’s previous corporate identity, Euromir.
Leon is the fifth online betting site to open with the blessing of Russia’s government, following Liga Stavok, 888.ru, Winline and 1xStavka (1xBet). However, those other four operators all belong to the First Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) of Russian Bookmakers, while Leon belongs to the rival Bookmakers SRO.
The Bookmakers SRO was thrown into a tizzy last week following reports that its chairman Nikolai Oganezov was stepping down. This week, Oganezov (pictured, right) told Betting Business Russia that he’d left to join the hospitality industry after receiving “an offer I could not refuse.” The Bookmakers SRO plans to elect a new chairman in November.
Oganezov insisted he wasn’t ruling out a return to the betting industry at some point but he’d apparently lost patience trying to get the two rival SROs to cooperate in lobbying the government on betting issues. Oganezov insisted that until Russian bookies learned to speak with one voice, the industry “will not be perceived as an established branch of the Russian economy.”
Oganezov also took shots at Russian legislators for writing and approving legislation that is “contradictory and unclear.” Oganezov said “populists” and “amateurs” had taken it upon themselves to craft gambling legislation while industry stakeholders were “deliberately not invited” to participate.
Oganezov also slammed Russian communications regulator Rozkomnadzor, which has no peer when it comes to blacklisting unauthorized gambling domains. Oganezov said most international online operators “will find ways” around IP-blocking and that players would always opt for online options that were “simple, fast, impersonal and without draconian taxes.”
Russia’s legal online betting regime requires sites to process all financial transactions through centralized payment hubs known as TSUPIS. The First SRO has already launched its Tsupis – known as First Tsupis – but the Bookmakers SRO’s Tsupis, which utilizes the Qiwi online payment processing service, is reportedly still in the final stages of its testing phase (despite Leon.ru’s launch).
Other Bookmakers SRO members – including Fonbet, Olympus and Marathon – are reportedly waiting until their organization’s Tsupis is officially up and running before launching their own Russia-approved sites.
The First Tsupis has reportedly signed 350k customers despite a registration process that is anything but simple. Customers must first sign up with an approved betting site, then register online with the appropriate Tsupis, then present their passports at a retail location for confirmation before being allowed to deposit – by check – to their online betting account.
Last week, Bookmaker-ratings.ru reported that Liga Stavok was testing a system that would allow players to confirm registration via online video feed, but only if the player had already received approval to interact with a different First SRO bookie.