Betting Goes On For Russian Events Despite Ukraine Invasion


Russia flag bearer Sergei Tetyukhin leads the team into the stadium during the opening ceremonies for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Maracana.


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Legal wagering on live sports in Russia continues on betting sites, as the war in Ukraine enters its fifth day and Russia faces sanctions from the United States, several European nations, and various multinational corporations.

BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet and Caesars Sportsbook were among the books offering live in-match wagering on Moscow Liga Pro table tennis Monday morning Eastern time. 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.

Bet365 had live betting available on the Russia Premier League Women’s basketball game between Samara and Spartak Noginsk.

Monday, FIFA 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. has reached out to several sportsbooks and betting apps to see if there are any plans to suspend action on Russian events. International events are often automatically fed to books from third-party providers.

IOC Calls For Russia To Be Excluded From Sports

The International Olympic Committee also Monday asked that governing bodies worldwide exclude Russia and Russian athletes from events. The invasion of Ukraine has been rebuked across multiple fronts in the sporting world.

Among the other events 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.

Responsible Gambling

Always gamble responsibly. All licensed and legal operators in the United States have resources available to bettors, including educational guides on how to spot problem gaming, links to support services and tools to self-exclude for a set period of time. Support is available at the National Council on Problem Gaming, 1-800-GAMBLER and American Addiction Centers. Be sure to only wager on gambling sites that are licensed and regulated by the gaming regulatory body in your state. That ensures games are fair, bets are honored, customers’ funds are secure and that there are legal protections for the consumer.

Sports betting and gambling are not legal in all locations. Be sure to comply with laws applicable where you reside.

Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network/Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.

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