Publication date: 14 Aug 2022
Within the 3SNET review, we’ll take a closer look at just the legal sports betting sector, including how it operates online as well as how to promote betting in Russia.
Generally, all gambling in Russia is organized in accordance with Federal Law No. 244 On State Regulation of Gambling Activities (dated 29 December 2006). Numerous amendments have been made to the document since its adoption, lastly in July 2021.
According to this law:
- gambling is restricted: gambling establishments can only be opened in special zones; online casinos are prohibited;
- betting is legal: in order to open a land-based betting shop and website, a betting company must obtain a license.
- If you are wondering what is going on with casinos in Russia and how special gambling zones are organized, read How does the gambling market work in Russia?
How are online bookmakers organized in Russia?
In order to work in Russia and sell their services to Russians, betting shops and sweepstakes must operate within the framework of the law and obtain a license.
Generally, any legal entity can obtain the documents; the state duty is 30,000 roubles. Nowadays, it is possible to obtain a license for an organization through the Federal Tax Service, in person or via the State Services portal.
- The Unified Gambling Regulator oversees the gambling market in Russia. All financial transactions are carried out through the Unified Center for taking bets (UTSUPS). To protect players, the Unified Gambling Regulator formed a compensation fund of 600 million roubles. More details about the Unified Gambling Regulator and UTSUPIS are available in a special article. Until 2021, another system was operating in Russia when legal bookmakers used to accept payments and disburse winnings through the Unified Center for taking interactive bets. In case you are wondering how this system worked and whether it was effective, read WHAT IS TSUPIS, AND WHO BENEFITS FROM IT? The term TSUPISny has made its way into the players’ lexicon and still means “legal, legitimate, trustworthy”.
- You can find a list of all legal bookmakers in Russia on the official UTSUPS website. As of August 2022, these are 16 brands: 1xStavka, Astrabet, BaltBet, BetBoom, Betcity, Fonbet, Leon, Liga Stavok, Melbet, MarathonBet, Olimpbet, Pari, Sportbet, Tennisi, Winline, Zenit. Are you curious to know who is the best?
- All betting sites operating without a license in the Russian Federation are illegal and subject to blocking. Since 2015, access to a gambling site can be banned without a court decision, at the request of the Federal Tax Service, Roskomnadzor or the Prosecutor General’s Office. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2021, the monitoring system of the Unified Gambling Regulator processed 1.05 million sites, with 6,589 domains included in the register of banned sites.
Nevertheless, experienced bettors know how to circumvent blockages in various ways and gain access to banned sites.
Legitimate gambling in Russia is beneficial to the state. Russian bookmakers not only make good money, but also send part of their profits to the development of professional (80%) and youth (20%) sports. In accordance with the law, each bookmaker transfers 1.5% of all bets on a quarterly basis amounting to no less than 60 million roubles.
In 2021 (the fourth quarter only), the Unified Gambling Regulator withheld 3.43 billion roubles in earmarked allocations from bookmakers. Of these, 2.74 billion roubles are earmarked for professional sports and 685.8 million roubles for youth sports.
Ways of attracting an audience from Russia to bookmakers’ websites
Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of territory, with 146 million inhabitants. The country is as diverse as possible: around 200 nationalities with different religions and cultures, a huge range of population in terms of age, standard of living and education.
Russian is the official language but there are more than 50 other state and official languages in the regions. About 99% of the population speaks Russian.
The official currency is the Russian rouble.
Recently, Russians have become actively interested in sports betting. For example, according to statistics from Platforma (data comparison January-May 2021 and 2022), since the beginning of 2022 there has been 24% growth in interest from Russians to online bookmaker sites!
The analysts specify that men aged 25-34 are the most interested in sports betting (17% of all those who visit betting websites). The results for women’s audience are very interesting: women aged 45-54 are most curious about betting (11%), while Moscow residents over 65 visit the site 1.3 times more often than men (in the same age category).
- Platform experts: growth in visits to betting sites is due to a surge in players’ interest in eSports!
By Russian cities, interest was distributed as follows: Moscow and the Moscow region with 15% of the total (+5% growth), St. Petersburg with 5%, the Krasnoyarsk region with 3.3%, the Altai territory with 3%, the Primorsky region with 2.8% (+20% in comparison with last year’s figures!). The greatest growth in interest was seen in the Khabarovsk region (+36%), the Kaluga region (+26%), and Primorye (+20%). However, residents of some other regions reduced their interest over the year: in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District (-38%), the Arkhangelsk Oblast (-38%) and the Chelyabinsk Oblast (-34%). The lowest interest in sports betting was expressed by residents of the Amur, Vladimir, Vologda, Novosibirsk and Sverdlovsk regions.
According to data from the Monitoring Centre for Security 2.0, most requests for sports betting come from Moscow, the Moscow Oblast, St Petersburg, the Nizhniy Novgorod Oblast, the Krasnodar Krai, the Sverdlovsk Oblast, the Republic of Tatarstan, the Chelyabinsk Oblast, the Rostov Oblast and the Samara Oblast.
Even more interesting data confirming the flourishing of legal betting in Russia is offered by the Bookmaker Ratings. Within the framework of the research Russian bookmaker market of 2021 (the indicators, dynamics, trends), it was found out that the total volume of bets made in the RF through legal betting companies was 2.5 trillion roubles during the year:
- betting volume increased by 80.3% to 1.93 trillion roubles;
- deposits increased by 88.1% to 702.5 billion roubles;
- overall, the share of the legal sector increased by 2% to 79%;
- the net profit of legal bookmakers in Russia was 54.7 billion roubles.
Moreover, according to BR, there are almost 7 million active players in Russia, and their number increased by 43.3% in 2021! During the year, 15.29 million people made at least one bet.
- The majority of betting clients in Russia are male (69%), aged between 25 and 44 (61%). The majority of players are employed (87%) and rate their income as medium or high.
- During the year, the average bet has increased by 20% to 1,291 roubles. Furthermore, the majority of betting customers make about 4 bets a day and 25 bets a month, spending about 5 hours a week on betting.
- The Russians prefer to bet from mobile phone which makes 46,5%, from laptop and desktop computer it is almost equal (17,8% and 17% respectively, that is 34,8% of the audience) and from tablet 8,6%. Another 10.1% prefer to bet on sports at land-based betting sites.
By tradition, football and hockey are the most popular sports for betting in Russia, with basketball in third place. eSports is in fourth place, followed by tennis.
Why do Russians prefer to place their bets online?
According to the Bookmaker Ratings analysts, an increasing number of players (55.5%) treat sports betting as a pleasure, an opportunity to feel the excitement and adrenaline rush. 39.9% want to test their luck, 32.4% are willing to make watching a sporting event more entertaining and 19.6% play for the company with friends. As for the “earning” (1 or 2 times) only 33,7% of the bettors, 15,9% of them perceive betting as a permanent additional income and 2,8% of the bettors see it as their main source of income.
On the whole, there are fewer bettors who consider betting as income and more who perceive it as entertainment. That’s good, since it reduces the percentage of those who, through dishonest play, reduce the confidence of the bank in new attracted players – sure bettors and kappers.
- A sure bettor is a professional gambler who bets for a guaranteed profit. By using various speculative schemes, such a player puts the operation of a betting company at risk. Usually, most betting companies monitor suspicious accounts and may lower limits or block payouts.
- Kappers are players who make money from predictions. They study sporting events and all the statistics. After that, they either sell their predictions to ordinary players or bet on special strategies themselves. Unfortunately, this opens the door to a lot of ways to cheat. Being in such a situation is unprofitable for the BC, therefore the accounts of possible kappers are subject to various sanctions. The good thing is that according to statistics (Bookmaker Ratings), most players (32.5%) bet spontaneously, relying on luck. In contrast, only 28.7% listen to experts and watch predictions.
Interesting statistics on queries assisting in the promotion of online betting can be gleaned from Google Trends. What have Russians searched for in the last 12 months? What can be used to attract their attention?
- And immediately a curious fact! Along with the word “bookmakers” a variety of queries related to Eurovision 2022 have become extremely popular. Similarly, users actively search for “bookmakers with free bets” and “which bookmakers give free bets without deposit”. Among the brands most interesting are Marathonbet, Bet365, Winline, BetCity and Fonbet. Real Madrid and the UEFA Champions League lead among the sports-related queries.
- As for the sports betting query, the picture is slightly different. In this case, the leading queries are “promo code” and “the whole truth about sports betting”. 1xBet is considered to be the most popular brand, while the National Hockey League is the most interesting event.
What are the most popular sites among Russian residents?
Different sources of traffic can be used to promote betting: search engines, messengers, social networks. This information will help to guide you and choose the source most frequented by the people of Russia (according to Similarweb):
- The most popular search engine in Russia is yandex.ru (also yandex.net and yandex.com). In second place are google.com and google.ru.
- The most popular social networks are VKontakte (vk.com) and Odnoklassniki (ok.ru), followed by messenger whatsapp.com. Rounding out the list of sites in the Social Networks and Online Communities in Russia category are livejournal.com and telegram.org.
As for the social networks that have been blocked by court decisions and are very popular recently, the situation is as follows. In August 2022, research company Mediascope reported that:
- Facebook’s audience dropped 4.7 times: from 9 million users in February to 1.9 million in July. At the same time, 2.7 million people spent longer than 5 minutes on the Facebook app in February and only 305,000 users in July.
- Instagram’s audience has almost quadrupled, from 37.8 million in February to 10.6 million in July. Sessions longer than 5 minutes saw the number of users drop even faster, by 81%: from 28.9 million in February to 5.5 million in July.
Against this backdrop, the Telegram messenger saw the most notable growth: in six months, its audience grew by 66%, from 25 million in January to 41.5 million per day in July.
As for the most visited websites of legal bookmakers, according to Similarweb service, the traffic of legal Russian betting companies increased by 13.46% in July 2022 compared with the previous month and reached 36.82 million users.
- The websites of BC Fonbet (9 million users), Winline (5.7 million) and Liga Stavok (4.1 million) registered the most traffic.
- Legitimate bookmaker SportBet saw the highest increase in traffic with 491.2% (the domain sportbet.ru was launched recently, previously it was mostbet.ru).
- Players are willing to spend the most time – 20:13 minutes – on the site of BC Marathon. Consequently, the same website leads in terms of viewing depth.
Features of gambling advertising in Russia
Let’s start with the good news! * The majority of Russians have a neutral attitude to bookmaker advertisements. The proportion of those who have a positive attitude is much higher than those who are negative. Many online betting visitors are aware of which team or league the bookmaker is sponsoring and understand the necessity and usefulness of advertising.
*The Bookmaker Ratings data for 2021.
The rules for dissemination of information about betting shops and sports betting are regulated by Article №27 “Advertising of risk-based games, betting” of the law “On Advertising”.
NB! One of the clauses of this article allows advertising “in information and telecommunication networks of general use”, i.e., on the Internet.
The general rules for advertising of betting shops on the Internet are as follows:
- it is forbidden to address an audience under the age of 18 (minors);
- it is prohibited to use images of people and animals;
- give the impression that participating in a bet can be a source of income, or that winning is guaranteed;
- state that sports betting can be a guarantee of high professional or social status
- condemn non-participation in games.
From 1 September 2022, the rules for advertising of sweepstakes in Russia will change:
- images of horses, riders and jockeys are allowed in betting advertisements;
- sweepstakes operators may place their advertisements on websites of media that specialize in equestrian sports in one way or another;
- totes can be advertised during the broadcasting of horse races (no more than 20% of advertising time);
- advertising of bookmakers is allowed during the broadcasting of horse trials (with the previous restrictions).
Why it is profitable to promote betting in Russia
Betting in general is a very attractive niche, but Russian betting has its advantages.
As always, the main thing is the audience! There is a huge number of people positively inclined towards betting on sports either for fun or for profit. Different ages, different social statuses are all possibilities! Thanks to eSports, a younger audience – from 18 years old and up – is also getting involved in betting. And a new niche is women aged 45-54. You just have to find an approach and get them interested!
The second most important thing concerns advertisers! All legal and licensed bookmakers are looking for traffic from Russia. Cooperation on GEO Russia is possible using three models which are CPA, RevShare and hybrid CPA+RS. RevShare is especially popular lately. Everything depends on you: it is important to attract a really interested player. Afterwards, you can generate income from this player for many years. The 3SNET network has prepared the Top Offers from the best bookmakers in Russia, choose and send traffic!
Many bookmakers are completely legal. On the one hand, there is complete freedom in advertising. On the other hand, it imposes some restrictions, for example, some advertisers do not accept context on the brand. But so many sources are waiting for your imagination and creativity: social networks, messengers, mailings, videos! By the way, experts are talking about the second “advent” of sms: since February, demand for connections has risen to 80%!
In the new political circumstances, many international websites and TV channels refuse to broadcast Russian sporting events. Nevertheless, bookmakers are willing to try their best to attract players, including free-to-air broadcasts. Winline, for example, has free broadcasts on its mobile app.
Generally speaking, in promoting betting it is very important to keep up to date with sports events! The 3SNET website now offers a Sports Events Calendar. Here you can find international and Russian events of all sports, leagues and federations for the next years. Take advantage of it and attract new users!
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