Online gambling operator Marathon has launched its Russian-licensed sports betting site but potential customers must be willing to travel in order to register.
This week brought the official launch of Marathonbet.ru, bringing the number of government-approved online sports betting sites to 12. The Marathon brand is well known in Russia and the company has had a local license for some time but is only now getting its online feet officially wet.
As recently as last August, Marathon was expressing reservations about launching a locally licensed online site, in part due to the government’s frenetic approach to gambling regulation, in particular issues dealing with taxation and required payments to sports federations.
All Russian-licensed online bookmakers must process customer payments through centralized hubs known as TSUPIS. Marathon is a member of the Bookmakers Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO), which has a deal with JSC KIWI Bank, a subsidiary of the QIWI Group, to run its TSUPIS.
Russia also requires would-be online betting customers to complete their TSUPIS registration by presenting proof of identity at a retail outlet, and Marathon currently only has land-based operations in two cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. Meaning anyone who wants to wager with Marathonbet.ru but doesn’t live in either of those cities will have to book some time off work, pack a lunch and hop on a train.
According to a recent market report by Russian affiliate Bookmaker Ratings, Russia’s total online and retail sports betting turnover over the past 12 months was estimated to be around RUB 677b (US $11.4b). Of this, locally licensed operators accounted for around RUB 403b, from which local operators derived revenue of around RUB 47b ($793m).
An estimated RUB 422b of the total turnover figure was wagered online, and roughly RUB 148b of this was handled by Russian-licensed sites. The Russian punter’s average bet was around RUB 1000 ($17).
Of the betting sites currently authorized to operate in Russia, a Betting Business Russia analysis of Similar Web data showed 1xstavka.ru (1Xbet) the clear traffic winner, notching 2.32m hits in the month of June, well ahead of runnerup Fonbet.ru at 1.87m and third-place finisher Ligastavok.ru at 1.41m. From there the numbers drop off significantly, as fourth-ranked site Baltbet.ru scored only 573k.
As for .com bookies serving Russian punters without local approval, Parimatch.com was the clear favorite at over 5.7 m hits, more than twice the 2.2m generated by runner-up Marathonbet.com. The rest of the top-five included Fonbet.com (1.56m), 1xbet.com (1.45m) and Olimp.com 627k).