Several Books Suspend Betting on Russian Sports After Ukraine Invasion
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DraftKings on Thursday became the first US-based major sports betting site to stop taking wagers on teams and leagues in Russia. The move comes as the war in Ukraine enters its second week and Russia faces sanctions from the United States, several European nations, and various multinational corporations.
“As of today, we will no longer offer betting on sports leagues and events in Russia and Belarus, such as the KHL. DraftKings has no direct commercial relationships with any Russian or Belarusian league, team or sports organization. Our Customer Experience team is prepared to answer questions from any customers impacted by this change,” DraftKings said in a statement.
By late Thursday afternoon, odds for Moscow Pro Liga table tennis and the Kontinental Hockey League disappeared on other betting apps, including FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook. Pro Liga odds remained on bet365. Pro table tennis became a fixture on the American legal betting scene during the spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered sports around the world.
FIFA on Monday banned all Russian teams from competition, including the upcoming 2022 World Cup. Meanwhile, the U.S. added Russia’s Central Bank to its list of sanctioned institutions. The move bars Americans from doing business with the bank and freezes its assets in the U.S.
Bookies.com reached out to several sportsbooks earlier this week to see if there were any plans to suspend action on Russian events. International events are often automatically fed to books from third-party providers.
None of the sportsbooks contacted had any comment until the DraftKings announcement Thursday. Meanwhile, state officials in New Jersey also would not comment on if the Garden State had any plans to halt betting on events in Russia.
IOC Calls For Russia To Be Excluded From Sports
The International Olympic Committee on Monday asked that governing bodies worldwide exclude Russia and Russian athletes from events. And the NFL suspended its ties within Russia, as well. The invasion of Ukraine has been rebuked across multiple fronts in the sporting world.
Among the other events suspended in Russia or involving Russian clubs:
- The UEFA Champions League final was moved to Paris. It had been scheduled for St. Petersburg, Russia. It will take place on May 28.
- The Formula One Russian Grand Prix scheduled for Sept. 25 has been canceled. “It’s impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances,” F1 said.
- The Swiss soccer federation will skip a women’s match scheduled with Russia at the European Championship this summer.
- German soccer club Schalke will end its partnership with Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom.
Bettors Set Aside Concerns About Table Tennis
Table tennis was one of several new or niche sports that caught the eye of bettors during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. And wagering on table tennis continued after pro and college sports returned in North America.
Concerns about matches being fixed and a lack of oversight still has not dampened the enthusiasm of bettors when it comes to table tennis even after the end of the 2020 sports hiatus. There are multiple matches at all hours, they move quickly and multiple scoring changes offer a near continual stream of wagering opportunities.
Fans of Colorado sports betting have developed a particular affinity for betting on what most of us call “ping-pong.” In 2021, Colorado bettors wagered more than $110.57 million on table tennis. That was more than golf, MMA or all motorsports.
Legal sports betting was shuttered on Ukrainian table tennis across American books in July of 2020 after concerns about matches in that league were raised by the Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association. The Indiana Gaming Commission limits wagering on events to those sanctioned by the International Table Tennis Federation or European Table Tennis Union.