EL calls for peace in Ukraine as LeoVegas ceases bets on Russian sports

By | March 4, 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now in its ninth day, and criticism from a range of political arenas and economic areas has continued to mount, including the betting space.

Issuing a statement today, the European Lotteries and Toto Association (EL) criticised the invasion and called for peace, whilst LeoVegas has become one of the latest businesses to limit its activity in relation to Russia and Belarus. 

In the EL’s statement, the continental national lotteries umbrella association expressed its sympathy with its members and their employees in Ukraine, and called for peace in the country. 

“As part of the global community, the European State Lotteries and Toto Association (EL) is deeply concerned about Russia’s reasonless invasion of Ukraine and the resultant threats to peace, humanity and stability,” the statement read.

“EL and its Members condemn the war acts of Russia against Ukraine. A true value of the EL Membership is to stand united for the benefit of society. As Ukrainian society is under violent attack, EL and its Members stand united against this war, call for peace, and share their solidarity with the EL Members in Ukraine and the people of Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Nasdaq Stockholm-listed online betting and gaming firm LeoVegas announced yesterday via a Linkedin post that it would no longer accept wagers on Russian or Belorussian sports due to the invasion, and Belarus’ support for Vladimir Putin’s actions. 

“Following the invasion of Ukraine, LeoVegas Group has decided to suspend all betting on Russian and Belarusian domestic sports,” said Gustav Hagman, CEO of LeoVegas. 

“Athletes and teams from these countries have already been banned from participating in international events by many sports federations and, while LeoVegas Group has never accepted customers from Russia or Belarus, we do not wish to lend legitimacy to these leagues or competitions.”

LeoVegas – which has further stated that it is monitoring the situation in Ukraine closely – has also donated SEK 500,000 (€46,300) to the International Committee of the Red Cross – ICRC in support of its activities in the conflict, and has encouraged others to do the same. 

The EL has taken a similar approach to LeoVegas with regards to wagering, encouraging its members to not accept bets on Russian and Belarusian teams and leagues, whilst also taking the added step of calling for suspension of its members from the two countries. 

“EL and its Members call for the immediate ceasing of the war and invasion by Russia on Ukraine and to instead build peace and dialogue,” the organisation concluded. “EL investigates the possibilities of further humanitarian support for the victims and refugees of this war.”

Wider industry criticism of Vladimir Putin’s military action has seen Czech lottery operator Allwyn – and its parent comapny KKCG Holdings – Kyiv-based operator Parimatch and Polish sports data firm Statscore all condemning the invasion.

Allwyn and KKCG penned an open letter labelling the war an ‘senseless act of aggression’ and has also organised humanitarian relief efforts and pushed for the exclusion of Kremlin-linked musicians from an upcoming Prague music festival.

Meanwhile, Parimatch has withdrawn its Russian franchise and Statscore will no longer provide data on Russian and Belorrusian competitions, whilst bet365 has also closed its Russian accounts – albeit without releasing an official statement on its motivation in the case of the latter. 

Lastly, the Gaming Industry for Ukraine initiative has set out to raise £250,000 to support Choose Love’s Ukraine Crisis Fundraiser, with the goal of providing assistance to the Ukrainian public during the conflict.

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