Despite the difficult and unstable conditions of 2022, the Russian betting industry continues its activities and maneuvering in new realities.
Darina Denisova, president of the Association of Betting Companies, spoke with SBC CIS about the new role of the Association, the legal market condition and made a forecast for the rest of the year.
What is the Russian betting industry condition in 2022?
Last fall there were a lot of rumors around the industry, including the belief that after new reforms came into force legal betting in our country may gradually disappear. Nothing like this happened, the industry is still developing, but not as fast as we wish.
Thus, the creation of the Unified Gambling Regulator (ERAI) was not a painful shock for the industry, business processes continued as usual?
For sure. ERAI, as well as the ECUPS, quickly became an indivisible part of the market. Companies in the multivector betting industry are obliged to be flexible. Therefore, almost all our betting licensees continue their activity in 2022. Some of them do not stop developing, others just stay afloat, but this is a part of the business, as in sports, there will always be leaders and outsiders.
2022 is a new reality for self-regulatory organizations that were legally binding in Russia until recently. Membership in your self-regulatory organization (SRO) Association of Betting Companies and in the First SRO after the launch of ERAI are no longer mandatory for legal betting companies. How are you surviving now?
We are not surviving, we are fully functioning, and we do it as successfully as in previous years. Yes, membership in the Association is no longer mandatory. However almost all the operators, who were with us before, now became associate members of the Association.
In fact, we are now almost the only full-fledged expert and advisory center in the industry, which helps licensees to do business in a highly regulated local betting environment.
Thus, the Association became a kind of adviser body for business?
Call us whatever you want: advisor, mediator or expert hub. Our Association helps betting companies to solve a huge pool of everyday issues: legal, regulatory, GR, marketing. Business needs us, there is no doubt about that.
If operators now as associate members continue to use our services, that means that doing business in the country has not become any easier with the launch of ERAI.
ERAI and ECUPS professionally perform their regulatory and accounting functions that the state has entrusted to them, but we help businesses and licensees to feel as comfortable as possible in our jurisdiction.
Our regulatory legislation is very turbulent. Market players would like to have certain statistics and a sufficient horizon of predictability, but in recent years betting business has always been at lawmakers’ spotlight.
According to your information, how does the state struggle with the illegal betting market?
The fight goes on, and we see that the state and the licensed business work very effectively for that. Over the past few years, it has become extremely problematic for illegal business to work in our jurisdiction. The strict measures to cut off most of the payment methods, which illegal companies used to work with bettors, was one of the reasons for that.
What percentage of the market legal betting companies currently have?
I think that 85-90% of the market is already legal in Russia. This is a great result, because five years ago illegal business had at least 60-65% of the market.
What is your forecast for the Russian betting industry for the rest of 2022?
I think that the rest of the year will be very stable. Naturally, after major changes in the regulatory landscape last fall, most industry players had to adapt to new conditions. Our Association helps them thanks to the great expertise of our specialists. In general, I do not think we will see any new shocks till the end of the year.
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