Top Gambling Websites Disassociate Themselves with Russia
Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has sent the globe into a frenzy. Sparked by US and UK sanctions on the country, it seems that the whole Western world is following suit and applying pressure on the country in one way or another. Sanctions are proving to be the greatest weapon in NATOs arsenal right now.
Top brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Dell, Spotify, Ford, Nissan, and loads more prominent international businesses have suspended their trade in Russia. Some have pulled out of the country altogether. The gambling industry is amongst those who have shown their disdain for the atrocities committed over the past few weeks by the Kremlin.
Prominent Brands Withdraw their Services from Russia
The online gambling industry has joined suit and some respectable names in the industry have withdrawn their services from Russia despite their legal licenses to operate there. Some of the big hitters include Bet365 Sportsbook, Parimatch, and PokerStars.
The poker site went through major regulatory changes in the country last year to accommodate Russia’s evolving stance on online gaming. It launched its ‘Sochi’ site in 2021 but closed services to the public with immediate effect a few days ago.
Bet365 is one of the biggest sports betting brands in the world. They have given Russian players until the 15th of March to withdraw any funds they might have in their accounts.
Sportsbooks Discontinue Russian Markets
The Russian online gambling market is not huge. Despite this, bookmakers in the USA believe that halting support for betting on Russian sports events will make a dent in their sporting economy. As such, DraftKings was one of the first to announce their decision to join the boycott of all Russian markets on their platform. They have been followed by Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel. DraftKings stated:
“We will no longer offer betting on sports leagues and events in Russia and Belarus, such as the KHL.”
The state of Illinois has taken a more drastic measure. They’ve banned any of the sportsbooks licensed in their region from allowing bets to take place on any Russian sports.
Further afield, international betting sites like LeoVegas, Pointsbet, and Sportsbet.io have elected to do the same as their American counterparts. These sanctions are likely to put a strain on betting markets, such as the Kontinental Hockey League, Russian football (soccer), table tennis, and volleyball. These are all popular sports in the big country.
But Russia’s troubles with sports do not end with gambling site sanctions. They were to host the EUFA Champion’s League final this year on the 28th of May at the Gazprom Stadium. UEFA has elected to move the event to France, instead. And to top it off:
- FIFA has banned Russia from international footie events.
- UEFA has banned Russian clubs from competing in European competitions.
- Formula One terminated its contract with the country for the Russian Grand Prix.
Even the English Premiership team, Chelsea, has met hard times with restrictions. While not booted from the league, their ownership by Russian Oligarch, Roman Abramovich, has severely compromised their future. The club’s ability to make profits has been massively restricted.
Support Retracted for Russian Betting Brands
But it is not only gaming operators that are closing the door on the Russian industry. Software providers for both casinos and sportsbooks are pulling the plug on their contribution to Russian-owned casinos. Among these is Betting.bet and Malta-based company, Beter.
A summary of the current bookmakers and gambling sites that have sanctioned Russia in one way or another can be found in the table below. The list is sure to grow in the days and weeks that lie ahead.
Public Gambling Sanctions on Russian Sites
Moreover, certain public voices are calling for sanctions by players at all online casinos and sportsbooks owned by Russians. There are plenty of names on the hit list. There does not seem to be any pressure from the governments in this area, so we are not sure this initiative will gain major traction.
Retail Casino Issues
Even the retail casino industry is affected by the conflict. NagaCorp, which has been busy with the development of the Vladivostok Casino project, has halted its development. It was touted as one of the best investments in the casino industry. The casino was due to open in 2022. However, it seems like this deadline will surely be shelved until things calm down in Eastern Europe.
Swift Makes Things Difficult
On top of the continued extraction of casinos, sportsbooks, and poker sites from the Russian market international payments have been made near impossible. The fact that Russia has been vetoed by SWIFT makes transferring funds to and from online sites far more challenging. Also, prominent payment providers, like Mastercard, Visa, and others have pulled out of the country for now.
This makes the ability to play online more trouble than it is worth for the Russian public right now. Of course, they could go the crypto route at crypto casinos. But even then, major exchanges like Coinbase, are blocking certain illicit Russian IPs from accessing their network to trade in cryptocurrency. Not all Russians are blocked from the servers but it is keeping a close eye on financial movement in that part of the world.
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The hostilities in Ukraine are bound to have a massive effect on the Russian economy. In the last few weeks, the Russian ruble has already dropped 30% in value against the US dollar. Each time a new industry joins the sanction, more pressure is applied on both the Kremlin and the Russian people.
Even if Russia did comply with NATOs demands for a cease-fire, one wonders whether the country’s economy would be able to stabilize quickly again. It could also be questioned whether the Western world would want to lift all restrictions at once. Only time will tell.