Russia’s online sports bettors have a new legal option at their disposal following the official launch of Zenit.win.
This week, Russian gambling affiliate Intelbet revealed that Moscow-based bookmaker Zenit had launched its new Russian-licensed online sports betting site. Zenit has also joined the Bookmakers Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO), one of two umbrella groups representing Russia’s licensed online bookies.
Zenit’s launch brings the total number of Russian-licensed bookmakers to 13, joining Liga Stavok, 1xBet, Winline, Betcity, 888 (not the UK operator), Fonbet, Olympus, Baltbet, Leon, BingoBoom, PariMatch and the most recent entrant Marathon. Bwin.ru, the Russian partnership of Digital Betting and GVC Holdings’ Bwin betting brand, is currently taking customer registrations but is expected to launch any day now.
As a member of the Bookmakers SRO, Zenit’s payment processing will be handled by JSC KIWI-Bank, a subsidiary of the Qiwi Group electronic payment processing outfit. Russia requires all online betting transactions to be channeled through TSUPIS online hubs and registering to bet with Zenit requires a two-stage process including verifying one’s identity documents at a Zenit retail office.
Zenit also operates a Montenegro-licensed site, Zenitbet.com, which enjoys high traffic from Russian punters and significant attention from Russia’s internet watchdog Roskomnadzor, which has blocked nearly 1k Zenit-related domains in recent years.
Russia’s Ministry of Finance recently threw its licensed bookmakers for a loop by announcing plans to incrementally boost their taxes tenfold by 2020, starting with a doubling of their rates effective January 1, 2018. Operators have expressed concerns that the tax hikes will force some sites to close up shop, while giving a boost to the internationally licensed sites that Roskomnadzor struggles to keep under wraps.
RUSSIAN BOOKIES VIE FOR MATCH TV PARTNERSHIP
The uncertainty hasn’t stopped numerous Russian online bookies from expressing their interest in winning the right to power the proposed online betting site of Russian sports broadcaster Match TV. The company wants to launch a ‘Match Betting’ site next year in time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and has opened a tender for a technology partner.
While some bookmakers have expressed reservations about the terms of the tender, Russian media indicates that the tender has received interest from Baltbet, Fonbet, Leon, Liga Stavok, Marathon and Olympus, while PariMatch and Betcity are reportedly not planning on throwing their hats into the ring.