In response to the invasion of Ukraine, a DraftKings Russian sports betting ban is now in affect. On Thursday, DraftKings Sportsbook announced it had suspended markets on Russian sports leagues and events.
“As of today, we will no longer offer betting on sports leagues and events in Russia and Belarus, such as the KHL,” the company announced via a tweet that included a Ukrainian flag graphic. “DraftKings has no direct commercial relationship with any Russian or Belarusian league, team or sports organization. Our customer service team is prepared to answer questions from any customers impacted by this change.”
The Markets Affected By DraftKings Russian Sports Betting Ban
The DraftKings tweet referenced the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), a 22-team multi-national hockey league in which 20 teams call Russia or Belarus home. Betting the KHL gained popularity among some due to the time difference (eight hours from the American East Coast to Moscow) giving them something to sweat during the day. ESPN’s free ESPN Streak game, which challenges players to pick winners consecutively for a month, also often featured KHL games.
Beyond the KHL, though, American sportsbooks sometimes offered markets for Russian basketball and soccer leagues. In some jurisdictions like Colorado, Russian table tennis markets gained popularity thanks in part to pandemic-induced boredom.
Additionally, the sporting sanctions referenced earlier have altered some of the markets and mechanics around the markets for various sports.
For example, as of now, Russia is barred from competing in its scheduled March 24 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Poland. This could be a big deal for anyone who bet them (currently ranked 35th in the world) to qualify or win the World Cup. Two games away from qualifying, they may forfeit and miss out on a chance completely.
Those hoping to cash in on another round of bets on Russian figure skaters at the upcoming Figure Skating World Championships will also find markets bereft of several Olympic medalists after the governing body banned them.
Not all sports are employing blanket bans, though. Men’s tennis, for example, will continue to allow Russian players to compete without use of the Russian flag. That’s significant since world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev hails from Russia. His absence would drastically affect tournament markets.
Bottom line: make sure you do your due diligence on the situation in any markets involving Russian or Belarusian athletes. Check with your sportsbook on any pending futures.
Are Other Sports Betting Providers Allowing Bets On Russian Sports?
While DraftKings made headlines with their announcement, that doesn’t mean their competitors are necessarily following suit.
BetMGM Sportsbook still had markets available for Russian table tennis and Russian hockey as of Thursday early evening.
TheLines poked around Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook and was unable to find similar markets. Neither company made a Twitter announcement in the same vein as the DK one. So, it’s possible company policy going forward is still under discussion, or they’ve opted to follow DraftKings’ lead in more understated fashion.