2021 has greatly changed the landscape of the betting and gaming industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic and legislative changes in many post-Soviet countries. However, 2022 has also brought some big deals and cooperations, the opening of new markets, as well as the new global changes as a result of the war in Ukraine.
SBC CIS highlights some of the most important events of the outgoing 2022 year.
The beginning of the year kicked off with major news that online gaming giant Flutter had acquired bingo operator Tombola in an all-cash transaction worth £402m. Flutter asserts that its latest portfolio addition is set to deliver several “key strategic advantages,” with a diversification of its products, one such benefit previously pinpointed.
1xBet has become the official betting partner of several Brazilian football tournaments. Whereas, the Responsible Gaming Business Association was established in Lithuania, which includes more than half of the representatives of the entire gambling market of the country.
The Georgian Adjara Group, which owns Setanta Sports, has acquired Setanta Ukraine – its OTT platform launched in Ukraine in the spring of 2022.
In early February, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) approved the first online betting and gaming licenses, with theScore and Pointsbet getting approval. In its turn, Scientific Games has launched large-scale retail and digital sports betting and lottery operations with Azerbaijani Demirören Holding lottery.
iGaming software developer Delasport has expanded and signed an agreement with TV Global Enterprises, which is part of the Betcris.
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine causing a severe impact on the geopolitical situation in the world. Fierce hostilities are continuing to this day. Due to the beginning of the war, affiliates requested to temporarily suspend traffic in Ukraine.
Due to the military invasion, March was full of statements from leading companies to leave and impose sanctions against Russia and Belarus. Among them were Parimatch, PokerStars, NHL, Statscore, Favbet, and many others.
Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, in turn, decided to sell his Chelsea Football Club and all net proceeds donated to victims of the war in Ukraine.
The gambling industry expressed strong support for Ukraine – they created several charitable foundations.
However, the processes do not stand still and Ukraine adopted the newest legal regime called Diia.City, relevant to companies engaged in computer programming, software development, IT consulting, and other types of IT activities. 145 companies have already received residency, including FAVBET Tech.
The largest regional sports broadcaster, Setanta Sports, became the title sponsor of FC Dinamo Tbilisi, while Olimpbet acquired sponsorships with several teams in Kazakhstan: FC Tobol and FC Shakhter Karagandy, as well as FC Kyzylzhar, FC Atyrau, and FC Aksu.
Parimatch officially announced it stopped all cooperation with the Russian Federation. Russia was “unplugged” from the Parimatch’s software and cannot use the Parimatch brand on any platform and in any format. In addition, Sportradar has also suspended new investment projects in Russia.
The sports television network Setanta Sports Eurasia signed a betting partnership with OlyBet. Cooperation extends to the entire Baltic region.
Azerbaijan amended the law to ban the advertising of illegal gambling and sports betting. Uzbekistan canceled the decision to legalize betting. And the Canadian province of Ontario officially launched its legal and regulated online gambling market.
3 Oaks Gaming entered regulated markets, including Georgia, Sweden, Colombia, Romania, and Malta.
Betting company Bettery announced the termination of its operations in Russia. All of its existing accounts were transferred to the Fonbet betting platform.
Betting company Liga Stavok notified the Russian Premier League to cancel its multi-billion dollar contract that was supposed to come into force next season.
The Latvian Saeima (Parlament) submitted legislative amendments to limit gambling. Amendments provide for prohibiting persons younger than 21 years from taking part in gambling. At the same time, industry-leading sports betting and online casino operator William Hill reinvigorated its sports betting operations in the country.
The Ukrainian Gambling Council (UGC) made an official statement on systemic attacks against licensed gambling companies. It was believed that the media war was unleashed by enemies of legalization. Additionally, Parimatch also left the market of Belarus.
In the middle of the month, the head of the UGC, Anton Kuchukhidze, announced that offline gambling establishments were reopened in the country.
Malta was officially removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, one year after first being labeled an untrustworthy financial jurisdiction by the global watchdog. However, FATF added Gibraltar to its grey list.
The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan finally voted to relegalize land-based gambling and launch online casinos for the first time. The Cabinet of Ministers and the President openly support the legalization of gambling.
The Romanian government published the country’s new draft Fiscal Code, featuring a tax hike on gambling withdrawals, to as much as 40%.
In July, Ukraine celebrated two years of its relegalized gambling market. According to CRGL, currently, 19 land-based operators legally operate in the country, 8 casinos and 56 slot machine halls, 17 online operators, 20 service providers, and 4,332 registered gaming equipment.
The Slovakian gaming authority announced a whitelist for websites run by licensed operators in order to help players recognize which offerings are legal.
SBC Summit North America hosted the largest and most successful event since its launch in 2019.
Armenian Digtain expanded its client portfolio among global operators and announced a partnership with Pin-Up. In a neighboring country, the Council of Ministers of Azerbaijan amended the law on financing the development of physical culture and sports from betting companies.
Setanta Sports secured an exclusive three-year rights extension in Ukraine with the Premier League to broadcast all 380 games per season.
Entain joined forces with an investment firm to create a new venture to fuel expansion in Central and Eastern Europe and created Entain CEE. The firm also announced a takeover of SuperSport, a gaming and sportsbook operator in Croatia, for €600m.
Particular attention was paid to the panel “Ukraine, CIS & Eastern Europe – defying the headwinds”. Leading representatives of the industry discussed a wide range of topics, including the tough situation in the region, the challenges, as well as existing regulations.
Parimatch took another step forward in the Premier League by signing a partnership with Newcastle United. In a few days, the Ukrainian company signed another partnership with the gaming organization 00Nation. CRGL revoked the license previously issued to an owner of the 1xBet brand in the country – Tvoja Bettingova Companija LLC.
Betsoft Gaming announced the launch of its slot gaming titles into the Romanian market with 888casino. BGaming, an online casino development studio, received a class II license from the Romanian National Gambling Authority. Following CT Interactive, which also announced the release of 20 new slots for Romania. Lately, CT Interactive teamed up with Latvian online casino brands synottip.lv and joker.lv.
The number of visitors in the gambling zones of Sochi and Kaliningrad decreased by 20% since the beginning of 2022. Playtech, a leading provider of technology to the gaming industry, teamed up with PokerMatch, the largest poker room in Eastern Europe.
On January 1, 2023, Albania will reintroduce legal sports betting, an activity that in 2018 was banned along with casinos and online gambling.
At the beginning of the month, the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine decided to submit an application to the Verkhovna Rada suggesting abolishing the CRGL. While Belarus planned to increase the amount of taxes its government collects from the online gambling sector.
Additionally, the last event under the SBC umbrella took place in November – SBC Summit Latinoamérica and SBC Awards Latinoamerica. FIFA has announced the appointment of Betano as an official betting partner for the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament for the first time.
Smartsoft Gaming, a leading provider of non-traditional casino games, based in Georgia, announced a stellar partnership with Entain. As part of this deal, Smartsoft will supply Entain with its portfolio of games.
December was the month of summing up the results of the main sporting event this year – the FIFA World Cup. Up to $35 billion wagered during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a 65% increase over the tournament held in 2018, analysts at Barclays Plc note.
FIFA itself allocated $440 million in prize money for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This is an increase of $40 million compared to the 2018 tournament.
Setanta Sports received another license and is now broadcasting in Uzbekistan as well. While Olimpbet, one of the leading sports betting operators in Central Asia, received a license to operate in Kyrgyzstan. However, the Armenian Parliament adopted an increase in taxes on betting companies, sweepstakes, and online gambling.
The CRGL decided to revoke 3 online casino licenses from Joker Yug LLC, Play Fun Investment LLC, and Alfagame LLC.
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