Offshore Betting Popular With Russian Sports Betting Punters

Billions of roubles are staked every year with online bookmakers not licensed in Russia

The Japan Times carried an interesting AFP article on Russian sports betting over the weekend, quoting several sources which claimed that Russian punters spend billions of roubles every year betting through online bookies who are not licensed in Russia.

InfoPowa readers will recall that the online sports betting industry in Russia now comprises 15 mainly Russian companies working through payment hubs called Tsupis in a rather clumsy, time-consuming process that requires punters to pay taxes and prove their identity and address in person at each bookie they use.

With the FIFA World Cup football championships scheduled for Russia in June and July this year, the volume of this essentially illegal betting is a cause for concern, along with the potential for its perceived impact in terms of match fixing and similar collusion.

The AFP article emphasises that no one expects illicit betting to play a role on the pitch during the World Cup games…but it notes that the potential highlights a dark corner of the Russian economy which local enforcement agencies have struggled to police.

Tsupis executive Anton Rozhkovsky told AFP:

“The total turnover volume of the legal and offshore online bookmaking market is more than $2 billion a year. We do not pretend to know if the actual figure is $2.5 billion or $4 billion,” he said. “Around 70 percent of that is illegal, offshore business.”

The troubled state of the industry in the years following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the often draconian laws passed to contain gambling resulted in many Russian punters gravitating to internet betting, the article observes.

Russia’s Bookmakers Rating gambling analysis centre estimated the entire industry’s annual turnover at $11.8 billion in May 2017, 65 percent of it made in illegal online bets.

And it predicted that the market would triple in the next five years thanks to high-profile events such as the World Cup.

A spokesman for the Russian licensed online bookie firm Leon said:

“We expect colossal interest in the World Cup. The legal online betting industry is developing at phenomenal rates.”

However, she said that the legal business in Russia was not developing as fast at it might due to the technicalities of ID delays, and the ability of determined internet users to deploy virtual private networks to evade periodic site bans.

Anti-match-fixing activist Anzor Kavazashvili said that there had been local match fixing scandals in which bookie companies had been involved. He flagged a scam in which some betting houses spread match fixing rumours to get officials to annul results of clean matches where they were due to pay out on big bets.

However, he said that the situation in the Premier League has improved as these teams and clubs were increasingly operated along sound business lines.

Read the full article here: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/04/world/illegal-gambling-sees-russian-punters-pouring-1-billion-per-year-offshore-shell-accounts/#.Wpu4oXtuI2w