Sports Wagering Persists on Russian Markets Undeterred by the Country’s Invasion of Ukraine

A volunteer hangs a Ukrainian flag during an initiative of football team FC Hoverla Paris. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

Legal sports betting on Russian live sports has resumed uninterrupted, whilst a war in Ukraine reaches its 5th day and Russia faces countless sanctions from the EU and the United States.

Major sportsbooks such as Caesars, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet offered live in-play betting on Monday morning’s professional table tennis league (Moscow Liga Pro). While its presence within the sports betting markets isn’t significant, table tennis gained popularity during the pandemic fuelled months of 2020 when slightly more significant sports were closed off.

In addition to the table tennis markets, Bet365 offered in-play wagering on the Russian Premier League of women’s basketball, as Spartak Noginsk went head-to-head with Samara.

FIFA announced on Monday that any teams from Russia would be excluded from competitions, which includes the ever-popular World Cup tournament to be held later this year. Simultaneously, the announcement was met with U.S. sanctions against the Russian Central Bank, therefore resulting in a restraint from American citizens using the bank with the freezing of its Stateside assets.

Although no official announcement has been made, it wouldn’t be surprising if top-rated sportsbooks suspended the Russian betting markets in the upcoming days.

Olympic Committee Calls for Russian Ban

The sharp disapproval and criticism of Russia’s behavior are being felt across the board. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) joined the long line of disapproving establishments in attempts to ostracize Russia and Russian competitors from Olympic events.

Russian and Belarusian athletes have subsequently been banned, including soccer and ice hockey.

“The Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, World Championships and World Cups and many other sports events unite athletes of countries which are in confrontation and sometimes even war,” read an IOC press release.

“At the same time, the Olympic Movement is united in its sense of fairness not to punish athletes for the decisions of their government if they are not actively participating in them. We are committed to fair competition for everybody without any discrimination.

“The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma. While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country.”

Elsewhere, numerous scheduled events have been relocated and/or rescheduled that involved Russia or Russian clubs. German Bundesliga side Schalke has terminated their partnership with Gazprom, a Russian-owned energy company. The Swiss soccer federation has removed a fixture from their women’s schedule that was set to take place versus Russia at the European Championships.

UEFA has relocated its originally scheduled Champions League final from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Paris, France. And the Formula One Russian Grand Prix initially set for September 25 has been canceled.

An F1 statement read: “It’s impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances,”