Russian online bookie halts activity due to dearth of sports


russia-online-sports-betting-888ru-coronavirus-haltA Russian online sports betting operator has temporarily halted its activities due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Russian-licensed online bookmaker (no relation to UK-listed online gambling operator 888 Holdings) posted a message to its website indicating that it had “temporarily suspended the acceptance of bets” due to the disruptions caused to the sporting calendar by the coronavirus pandemic. assured its customers that their deposits were safe and withdrawal requests would be honored “without delays,” while promising to resume normal activities “as soon as the situation stabilizes.”

Russia’s sports leagues had been among the last men (and women) standing following the virus-related suspensions of most of the major global sports bodies. But that bubble burst earlier this week when local authorities announced that Russian Premier League football, as well as local basketball and hockey leagues, would cease activity until at least April 10.

LIGA STAVOK LOOKS TO LOTTERIES, ESPORTS was a relative minnow in Russia’s regulated betting market, ranking dead last in SimilarWeb data for February’s online bookmaker traffic. But all bookmakers are currently feeling the corona crunch, including Liga Stavok, which ranked third on February’s traffic report.

Russian media outlet Kommersant recently reported that Liga Stavok plans to diversify its operations by entering Russia’s lottery market through a partnership with the Boxing Federation of Russia. Their Sports Lotteries LLC partnership plans to launch operations sometime in the second quarter, which will finally break the online lottery monopoly currently held by Stoloto.

Like bookmakers in other markets, Liga Stavok has seen a rise in its eSports betting markets. This week, general director Maxim Afanasyev told Bookmaker Ratings that the site’s eSports betting volume had grown tenfold in just five days, while the number of customers betting on eSports was up by a factor of six since the year began. ‘Cyber soccer’ was the most popular eSports market, with CounterStrike and Dota2 wagering well behind.

It’s worth noting that this option wouldn’t be available had Russian legislators followed through on threats made last year to include ‘computer sports competitions’ on the list of markets on which Russians were prohibited from wagering.

Meanwhile, the mysterious ‘Sportradar LLC’ (no apparent relation to the Western sports data firm of the same name) has just been accepted into the Bookmakers Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO), one of two rival groups representing the local betting industry.

Bookmakers SRO president Darina Denisova issued a statement acknowledging that Sportradar LLC’s timing could have been better, but expressed hope that “in future this company will establish itself as a reliable licensee and will gain market share in open competition.”