Online sports betting company 1xBet is losing popularity in Russia because of attempts to crack down on illegal websites for file sharing.
In the second half of 2019, Mediascope data for Russia’s largest online video advertisers revealed that the Curacao-licensed 1xBet struggled to crack the top-20 after ranking eighth in the first six months of the year and seventh in the first quarter.
In 2019, Russia ratcheted up its anti-piracy efforts after years of concerns from local copyright holders. 1xBet has built a dodgy reputation for striking deals in various markets to inject its logo and marketing campaigns right into pirated video screens.
The impact of Russia’s crackdown appears to have had a knock-on effect on 1xBet’s Russian-licensed version known locally as 1xStavka, which ranked fourth in the H1 2019 video advertising chart but dropped to tenth place in H2.
Last October, similar Web data showed that 1xStavka’s website traffic had dropped by two-thirds since last summer. In the month of December, the site staged a modest rebound, gaining 2.55 percent to 3.13 m users, good enough for fifth place (out of 19 locally licenced sites), but placed first before the piracy crackdown began in earnest.
In November 2018, Russian copyright holders, Internet service providers and search engines signed a joint Anti-Piracy Memorandum as a stopgap measure until a formal anti-piracy content bill can be drawn up. Currently this document is the only way to expunge a suspected piracy site from showing online search results in Russian.
The memorandum was due to expire in the fall of 2019 but was extended last November for a three-month period and was recently renewed again until the end of January 2021 as parties were unable to agree on the precise terms of the agreement and the Duma had moved on to other priorities.
Flawed or not, the memorandum appears to be successful in blunting the impact on Russian customers of internationally approved gambling sites that concentrate. Also dropping out of the top-20 video advertising rankings in H2 2019 was the Curacao-licensed Azino777, which previously held the title of Russia’s top online video advertiser.
Internationally licenced companies have also found it more difficult to move money into and out of Russia, despite increased pressure from the government on local payment processors. Liga Stavok shut down its globally licenced dot-com company shortly before Christmas, after the Qiwi payment processor cut off its links to international betting sites.