Sports Betting Data Giants Still Serving Russia Despite War Backlash

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The sports betting industry’s largest providers continue to provide data to Russian bookmakers despite mounting pressure to stop.

Sportradar, Genius Sports, IMG Arena and Stats Perform all were providing data to Russian books as of last week, according to multiple screen grabs obtained by LSR.

Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl also holds a 23% stake in Russia’s largest bookmaker, Liga Stavok.

Earnings call provides Sportradar position

Sportradar will continue to service Russian sportsbooks unless international sanctions change, the company confirmed at its Q4 results Wednesday.

The data giant has come under growing pressure in recent weeks over its Russian relationships, working with tax-paying Russian sportsbooks. However, Sportradar said at its Q4 results that pulling out of Russian entirely could cost it $13 million in EBITDA next year.

That “worst-case scenario” would be international sanctions forcing Sportradar to cut ties with Russian books and not collect data from the region.

Former Sportradar contractor speaks up

Andriy Kolomiyets worked for Sportradar from 2014-17 as director of business development in Russia and CIS.

Kolomiyets, who is Ukrainian, said Sportradar was helping Russian books make money and pay taxes.

“Data firms need to stop cooperating with all their Russian clients,” Kolomiyets said by video call from Ukraine. “I sent a personal message to [Sportradar CEO] Carsten Koerl and some top managers. But I got no reply.

“Their official position is bizarre. They say nothing. If they want to continue to work in Russia, say why.”

Speaking out from Ukraine

Major US sportsbooks already stopped taking bets on Russian events. Likewise, the NHL has asked partners including Sportradar to stop sending its data to Russian companies. Kolomiyets urged other leagues including the NBA to take similar steps.

“I doubt it is good for the leagues to have their brand associated with the war in Ukraine,” Kolomiyets said.

The NBA has a 3% ownership stake in Sportradar as part of the official data deal between the two. 

Sportradar responds

Sportradar said in a statement it had suspended new investments in its Russia operations, including signing new customers. 

The company is also compliant with all international sanctions, a spokesperson added.

It also created an emergency relief fund for affected colleagues and donated $1 million to charities for humanitarian aid in the region.

Ownership questions for Sportradar

Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl is currently unable to divest his 23% stake in Russian bookmaker Liga Stavok, a spokesperson said . A company statement said in part:

Over 10 years ago, Carsten Koerl made a minority investment in a parent company that owns a Russian sportsbook, Liga Stavok. Mr. Koerl does not have any operational responsibilities or authority in the company. Current sanctions prohibit an exit at this time, but should these circumstances change, he is committed to donating any profits from the investment to charities supporting Ukraine.

Genius, other data companies also still in Russia

Sportradar is not alone in providing data to Russian books. Stats Perform also appears to be providing football data to Russian-licensed book 1xBet, according to data expert Jack Kerr.

Stats Perform did not respond to a request for comment.

IMG Arena said it was “in the process of reviewing our contracts in Russia.”

Did Genius really switch off?

Elsewhere, Genius Sports said on March 6 it was “ceasing all operations in Russia and Belarus.”

However, the company was still providing NCAA basketball data to Russia-licensed last week. A Genius spokesperson said it did not supply Russia-based entities and had severed ties with books like Liga Stavok.

The company previously said the decision would cost it between $2 million and $6 million in annualized revenues.

What’s the total take from Russia?

Cutting the data supply to Russian sportsbooks could well have a major impact.

Credinform estimates the 10 largest Russian sportsbooks paid around $200 million in tax in 2018.

They also contributed $1 billion toward Russian sports.