Online sports betting operator 1xBet is losing visibility in Russia due to efforts to crack down on illegal file-sharing websites.
Mediascope data for Russia’s largest online video advertisers in the second half of 2019 showed the Curacao-licensed 1xBet failed to crack the top-20 after ranking eighth in the first six months of the year and third in the first quarter of 2019.
Russia ratcheted up its anti-piracy efforts in 2019 following years of complaints from local copyright holders. 1xBet has developed a dodgy reputation in numerous markets for striking deals to embed its logo and marketing pitches right onto the screens of pirated videos.
The impact of Russia’s crackdown appears to have had a knock-on effect on the Russian-licensed version of 1xBet known locally as 1xStavka, which ranked fourth in the video advertising chart in H1 2019 but fell to tenth place in H2.
SimilarWeb data from last October showed that 1xStavka’s website traffic had dropped by two-thirds since last summer. The site staged a minor rally in the month of December, gaining 2.55% to 3.13m visitors, good enough for fifth place (out of 19 locally licensed sites), but it ranked first before the piracy crackdown began in earnest.
Russian copyright holders, internet service providers and search engines signed a voluntary Anti-Piracy Memorandum in November 2018 as a stopgap measure until a permanent video anti-piracy bill could be crafted. This memorandum is currently the only way to expunge a suspected piracy site from appearing in Russian online search results.
The memorandum was supposed to expire in the fall of 2019 but it was renewed for a three-month period last November and was recently renewed again until the end of January 2021 because stakeholders couldn’t agree on the precise terms of the legislation and the Duma had moved on to other priorities.
Flawed or not, the memorandum appears to be effective in blunting the impact of internationally licensed gambling sites who focus on Russian customers. The Curacao-licensed Azino777, which previously held the title of Russia’s top online video advertiser, also dropped out of the top-20 video advertising rankings in H2 2019.
Internationally licensed operators have also found it harder to move money in and out of Russia following the government’s increased pressure on local payment processors. Shortly before Christmas, Liga Stavok shut its internationally licensed dot-com business after the Qiwi payment processor cut its ties to international betting sites.