Russian bookmaker BetCity has become the first betting operator to make the annual list of Russia’s top 500 companies.
On Thursday, Moscow-based media outlet RBC issued its annual list of the country’s 500 largest companies, and Russian bookmaker BetCity just managed to sneak onto the list’s lower rungs, marking the first time a local sports betting operator has achieved such status.
BetCity ranked 495th on RBC’s latest list, with an estimated profit of RUB48m (US$724k) in 2017, an eight-fold increase over the company’s net take in 2015. While BetCity’s profit appears pitifully small compared to many western operators, the company is getting better at squeezing profits from betting turnover, as total betting volume increased only RUB1b to RUB18b ($271.5m) over that same span.
BetCity launched its Russian-language site in 2003 and later opened a chain of retail betting shops that has since grown to 160 points of sale. BetCity’s Russian-licensed website ranked sixth on a SimilarWeb survey of website traffic for Russian bookmakers in the month of April.
Like most Russian-licensed operators, the company also operates outside Russia’s borders, where its operations apparently produce much higher revenue, in part because they can offer casino and poker products, not just betting. (The online gambling blacklist of Russia’s ban-happy internet watchdog Roskomnadzor currently contains some 1,938 entries for BetCity-affiliated domains.)
One year ago, RBC published a profile of Sergei Samsonenko, who controls BetCity’s parent company Fortuna (not to be confused with Czech operator Fortuna Entertainment Group) and currently resides in Macedonia. The profile quoted Samsonenko telling a TV interviewer in 2016 that he’d earned €23m from his gambling holdings the previous year.
Whatever Samsonenko truly earned, it was enough for him to acquire Macedonian football club FK Vardar and a couple handball clubs. In June, BetCity inked a five-year sponsorship agreement with Russia’s CSKA football club.