Sergey Portnov: Parimatch – CIS ambitions can match the UK in three years

Sergey Portnov, Chief Executive of Parimatch, has emphasised how the CIS and wider Eastern European betting markets could track the UK’s performance within a three-year span, noting fast-changing developments. However, Portnov warns that CIS ambitions can only be matched if regulatory gaps are fulfiled. 

Speaking at SBC’s ‘Betting on Sports 2019‘ Conference, Portnov discussed the current development of the CIS market whilst underlining difficulties it incumbents currently face: “The market is developing quickly on multiple levels. Regulation becomes more deep so right laws are written and right percentages are given. Now Ukraine is about to regulate, ten years in prohibition but now finally it’s going to get regulated. 

“The laws and regulations in Russian speaking countries its there, it allows you to work but it has a lot of flaws and a lot of gaps. Those gaps today they preclude foreigners to come in and operate freely because those gaps are dangerous.”

With this being said and despite the current ‘pitfalls’ it currently faces, the Parimatch CEO remained positive in his outlook regarding the potential development that he believes the CIS market can expect in the coming years. 

He added: “As time goes by things get refined and become more modern. I would say today that the market, if we look at it as a whole, is behind the UK maybe seven years. But every year now counts as two or three, so in two or three years time you can catch up. I’m sure in five years time it is going to be a properly regulated market, everything legal, everything monitored and all players KYC’ed so it’s going to be good. 

“Now at this stage it’s a bit dark waters, even though it looks white on paper, but we know inside you have a lot of dangerous pitfalls and those pitfalls are scaring foreigners big time. But this will change, the market is growing. People love sport, penetration of betting is growing so once everything is prospering it will eventually become proper system.” 

As well as the growth of sports betting within the region, Portnov also cited that patience would be needed from those involved within the market. Moreover, the Parimatch CEO eluded to the fact that the growth of the CIS market mirrored his desire to branch away from the stereotypes that are directed at those who work within the Eastern European market.

Portnov concluded: “There is no big system globally today which is in chaos. Everything that gets big eventually get somehow regulated because governments, auditors and everybody’s jumping on it and try to put an order into that chaos. 

“This is taking place now, foreigners just need to be patient. Time will come. For us it’s also an opportunity to fully become wide, even though the markets will become more competitive. But competition afterall brings out the best in you, if you’re not competitive then you don’t deserve those revenues. 

“We are prepared for competition and prepared to capitalise on our business as a whole, because right now when you say I work in Kazakhstan, Russia or Ukraine people say ‘great but kind of dodgy’. We don’t want to be associated as dodgy, those markets are competitive as hell, probably more competitive than in Europe.”

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