As the process of “squeezing out” foreign bookmakers in Russia gathers pace, bet365 is one of the only operators to avoid a decreased level of interest from Russian users.
Data compiled by Bookmaker Ratings has shown that the practice of blocking online bookmakers prohibited in Russia has affected the number of inquiries via search engine Yandex, as users want to place bets with legal bookmaking companies who work on the internet via ZUPIS.
However, bet365 figures show sharp increases, mixed with sporadic drops, even though the site is blocked. Pinnacle and SBOBET have also retained similar levels, explained by the fact that they have a faithful user base in a country which has long opted for low-margin bookmakers. Some of these users will also be multi-account holders who have learned how to bypass blocks enforced by Roskomnadzor.
The data looked at how the demand for the top-12 most popular Russian brands of foreign online bookmakers changed in the last 24 months. During the 2015/16 football season, the number of requests increased, with a slight decline due to the winter break, but the tide turned into an almost non-stop decline after the conclusion of UEFA Euro 2016 in July of that year.
This coincided with the third major wave of blockages by Roskomnadzor, who entered around 87,000 websites into the register of forbidden information in 2016, with 15,900 of these being gambling websites. The blocking not only impacted bookmaking sites, but also their Twitter accounts and posts on both VKontakte and Facebook.
By contrast with bet365, the number of searches for William Hill, a traditionally popular western bookmaker in Russia, exceeded 41,000 in July 2016, but dropped to 27,000 in August, before falling further to 17,500 in December and 14,200 on Yandex by February of this year.
In addition to a reduced demand for offshore bookmakers, there has also been an increase in the demand for Russian bookmakers since the launch of several interactive bookmakers. In June 2016, just before 1xBet became the fourth legal bookmaker in Russia after Liga Stavok, 888.ru and Winlinebet.ru, the number of search requests for Russian bookmakers reached a new level, which is now consistently between 1.5 and 2 million each month.