The 2018 FIFA Soccer World Cup is set to be held in Russia later this year. It is very likely to be the most bet on sporting event in history. Previous FIFA World Cup Events, like the one in Brazil and South Africa, have also held that title in the past. However, this is causing some serious concerns for the Russian government.
Russia Sanctions Sports Betting, Black Market Still Dominant
Since the last FIFA World Cup in 2014, Russia has legalized sports betting and started regulating the market. This should put the company in the perfect position to take advantage of all the hype surrounding the event. Russia’s state-sanctioned sports books should be in the perfect position to capitalize. However, despite the governments best efforts, many people are still opting to place their bets at unregulated offshore bookies.
Some believe that the sports betting market in Russia could be worth as much as CA$15.2 billion. However, estimates claim that as much as 65% of this is spent at unregulated operations outside the country. The figure varies greatly though, as black markets are nearly impossible to track. The director of the Russian sports betting payments provider estimated the market, legal and illegal, is worth CA$2.5 billion, but even they estimate that as much as 70% of all bets are made to unregulated firms.
Serious Concerns about Russia as Host
While Russia is concerned with how to make sure sports betting during the FIFA World Cup is conducted legally, many have other serious concerns. There have been numerous allegations surrounding corruption in FIFA during the bidding process, as well as the doping scandals that seems to plague Russian athletes. Others are also concerned about the hooliganism of Russian fans, racism and homophobia in Russia.
There have also been reports of match-fixing in the domestic soccer leagues in Russia. One last worry is how Russia had allocated a certain amount of money for the FIFA World Cup, but since winning the bidding process, has reduced this budget by a substantial amount. The budget for the world cup has dropped by CA$725 million.
With just a few months to go, we certainly hope the event goes smoothly. Unfortunately, Canada will not be taking part, but we’re sure there are still plenty of Canadian soccer fans who will be watching the event closely.