Russian online sports betting operator Liga Stavok is closing its dot-com operations for as yet unexplained reasons, although payment processing hiccups appear to be the culprit.
On Wednesday, LigaStavok.com posted a notice to its front page regarding the “closure of Liga Stavok betting company.” The message stated that the site was “forced to announce the closure” of its dot-com domain and instructed clients to withdraw their funds within 30 calendar days, after which “all registrations will be canceled.”
Liga Stavok’s international operation was prone to perpetually changing its domain address to avoid the ban-hammer of Russia’s Roskomnadzor telecom watchdog, and the site issued its last “place your bets as usual” advisory for the domain www.bk-ls2.com on December 11. But even that site is currently displaying the same ‘game over’ message.
It’s unclear why the Curacao-licensed Liga Stavok site is taking this step, although it likely has to do with the Russian government’s ongoing efforts to disrupt payment processing with internationally licensed gambling operators that cater to Russian bettors.
The Qiwi online wallet – which handles payments for a number of Russian-licensed bookmakers – recently suspended its dealings with internationally licensed bookmakers. LigaStavok.com posted a notice in November warning that Qiwi deposits were no longer possible “for reasons beyond our control,” then indicated on December 11 that Qiwi was no longer available for withdrawals.
Liga Stavok’s Russian-licensed betting site is quite popular with the locals, ranking second in November’s online traffic chart behind Fonbet. Liga Stavok operates both online and land-based betting in Russia, but its online operations account for roughly 70% of its overall betting volume, up from just 45% in 2017.
Earlier this month, company president Yuri Krasovsky projected that Liga Stavok’s 2019 revenue would come in around RUB57b (US$912.4m), a significant improvement over 2018’s RUB36.1b. After years of ignoring bookmakers’ pleas, Russia finally introduced a simplified customer registration process earlier this year that may have helped goose Liga Stavok’s numbers.
Liga Stavok VP Dmitri Pavlovsky noted that Russia’s Central Bank was introducing a new quick payment system early in the new year. Liga Stavok plans to begin testing this new system by the end of Q1 and officially launch in Q2.
Last week, Liga Stavok’s mobile betting app was awarded ‘best mobile app’ at Russia’s Runet Prize awards, which celebrates excellence in Russian-oriented online commerce. It’s worth noting that the category wasn’t limited to betting operators, making it a true feather in Liga Stavok’s cap.