While horrified and helpless onlookers in the West seek at least symbolic ways to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – such as boycotting Russian vodka – American sportsbooks have found their outlet.
DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, and Caesars were among the first to pull down betting markets involving Russia and Belarus last week. They were quickly followed by tech platform IGT, the Colorado Division of Gaming, and Penn National/Barstool. Indiana gaming officials followed on March 16.
It’s not going to change things much, but it’s something.
Hockey, ping-pong diplomacy underway at US sportsbooks
DraftKings announced last week that it would remove markets on the Russian Kontinental Hockey League and was later joined by its three competitors in removing all Russian and Belarussian markets from their offerings.
Belarus was a staging point for part of the invasion of Ukraine and is aligned politically with Russia.
The KHL is hardly a booming market in America, but the sportsbooks might have hit bettors – especially in Colorado – right in their preferences by taking down Russian table tennis.
In one of the more interesting developments of the American sports betting ecosystem, table tennis became a power market in Colorado when COVID-19 shuttered North American sports in 2020 and has retained a following.
In January, the sport generated $7.6 million wagering in Colorado, good for the eighth-highest handle, more than doubling golf and MMA.
The DraftKings ban also applies to business-to-business relationships, according to a release. SB Tech, which DraftKings acquired two years ago, has an office in the tech hub of Kyiv, Ukraine.
While no other sportsbooks have officially announced a Russian boycott, there were no Russian markets available in the US on Wednesday.