Ukraine’s gambling regulator has reversed course on controversial operator 1xBet and ejected it from the country’s online gambling market over ties to Russia, after earlier giving it the go-ahead to remain.
The Commission on Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) announced last week that it had revoked the licence of 1xBet due to its connections to Russia.
The regulator had, only the week before, issued a statement saying it had been unable to acquire any firm evidence linking 1xBet to Russia and that was therefore allowing it to continue operating in the Ukrainian online market.
The commission said last week it had revoked the gaming licences of Tvoya Bettingovaya Kompaniya LLC (TBK) to operate the 1xBet brand in Ukraine. Both sportsbook and online casino licences are now cancelled, it said.
The decision was made on the basis of documentary evidence from the Bureau of Economic Security about the ties of TBK LLC with Russian owners, which the company kept silent about when applying for licences in Ukraine.
The gaming law of Ukraine contains an exclusive list of grounds for revocation of a licence, including documentary evidence of the fact that control over the activities of the licensee is by individuals from an “aggressor state” — a provision drafted even before the most recent invasion, in response to the Russian occupation of Crimea.
The commission issued sportsbook and online casino licences to 1xBet in March 2022, which caused controversy in the early months of the ongoing war.
The licensed company TBK LLC is nominally owned by Ukrainian citizens, while the 1xBet brand itself, as the commission has now established, is controlled by Russian citizens.
One of the founders of 1xBet, Dmitry Kazorin, until June 16, 2022, was a co-founder of Bookmaker Pub LLC, operating the 1xStavka brand in the Russian Federation.
Also, in recent years, Bookmaker Pub LLC, when concluding sponsorship contracts with Russian football clubs, applied the 1xBet logo to player uniforms.
In addition, the site 1xbet.ru is still owned by Bookmaker Pub LLC and when you try to access this site, you are automatically redirected to 1xstavka.ru site.
In early August, President Volodymyr Zelensky had instructed Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to investigate 1xBet in response to a petition demanding the sports-betting operator be banned.