BUSINESS

Bwin’s Russia-licensed betting site under new management

TAGs: bwin.ru, GVC Holdings, Russia

bwin-russia-betting-site-new-ownerThe Bwin sports betting brand’s Russian-licensed site has reportedly undergone an ownership change as its website traffic continues to fall.

On Friday, Russian online gambling affiliate Bookmaker Ratings reported that Digital Betting LLC, the Russia-based entity under whose online sports betting license Bwin.ru operates in the country, was no longer controlled by local billionaire Alexander Mamut’s A&NN Investments.

Digital Betting’s new owner is listed as Nirevia Holdings Ltd, a Cyprus-based company that incorporated in August 2015. That’s about the extent of the public information available about Nirevia, although it added a new officer last March in the form of the equally opaque Intercorp Ltd.

Bwin.ru launched in November 2017 as a joint venture of Digital Betting and UK-listed online gambling giant GVC Holdings. Digital Betting boss Mamut pledged to spend big promoting the site via his online tech firm Rambler & Co, which controls some major Russian sports media properties, including the popular Championat (Championship) site.

But Bwin.ru failed to catch on with Russian punters and CEO Dmitry Sergeyev decamped to rival Parimatch in May 2019 after complaining that the site had been constrained by its “limited funding.” Fast forward to November 2019 and word spread that Mamut was eager to unload Bwin.ru to whomever might take it.

Initial rumors about potential acquirers included Russian payment processor Qiwi, which provided payment services for Bwin.ru (and a number of other Russian-licensed bookmakers). But a Qiwi rep denied any connection with the Cyprus-based Nirevia following Bookmaker Ratings queries.

Last March, rumors swirled that Bwin.ru was talking about some kind of partnership with Parimatch, but Sergeyev denied comment when asked if his new firm was still interested in linking up with the struggling Bwin.ru. However, the aforementioned Intercorp Ltd is also listed as a director of a number of Cyprus-based firms bearing the Parimatch name, so maybe read Sergeyev’s silence as consent.

Following last November’s reports, GVC claimed that the company expected to maintain its toehold in the Russian market despite the possible end of its JV. The Stars Group, whose PokerStars brand has a major Russian presence despite online poker being illegal, said last August that it planned to apply for a permit to offer online sports betting in the country, although no further information on this subject has emerged.

According to SimilarWeb data recently crunched by affiliate Betting Business Russia, Bwin.ru ranked 17th out of 19 Russian-licensed betting sites in traffic volume in December 2019. Bwin.ru registered just 120k visits that month, while market-leader Fonbet boasted 9.35m.

Bwin.ru’s traffic over all of last year was equally grim, notching a monthly average of only 190k visitors, tied with eSports betting site GGbet.ru, which didn’t make its local debut until mid-2019.

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