The lost “Bet” of Roman Semiokhin?
Can 1xStavka bookmaker leave the market amid scandals related to its beneficiaries? Clients of one of the largest Russian bookmakers 1xStavka continue to complain about the impossibility of replenishing deposits; problems with withdrawing winnings have also been reported. The company explains what is happening as “technical difficulties”, while not specifying how long it will take to eliminate them. There was information about the disconnection of the bookmaker from the Unified TsUPIS system, which could be followed by the termination of any transactions and withdrawal from the Russian market. Experts do not deny such a development of events, at the same time pointing to a possible change in the owner and brand of 1xStavka, which is quite natural against the backdrop of a number of recent high-profile scandals.
As it turned out, “1xStavka” is affiliated with the online bookmaker “1xBet” banned in Russia, the founders of which are Bryansk businessmen Roman Semiokhin, Dmitry Kazorin and Sergey Karshkov, who became defendants in a criminal case on the illegal organization of gambling on the Internet, put on the international wanted list today living in Cyprus. According to investigators, bookmakers withdrew more than 63 billion rubles to foreign accounts. In Russia, the first guilty verdict in the “1xBet case” was handed down in Bryansk in October 2021 against Olesya Mospanova, the manager of the city network Bookmaker Pub, who was sentenced to three years in a penal colony with a fine of 800,000 rubles and a suspended sentence of connection with the presence of a child under the age of 14. As for Roman Semiokhin and his associates, they are investing the withdrawn billions in the construction of residential facilities and office centers in Cyprus, one of which they plan to place their headquarters. The bookmakers intended to launch large-scale activities also on the territory of Ukraine, transferring last summer 1 million euros to support “Ukrainian citizens”, as well as 60 million euros (through affiliated structures) to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But this did not stop the Kyiv authorities from canceling the licenses of Your Betting Company LLC, the Ukrainian legal entity 1xBet, to receive sports bets and operate online casinos, accusing businessmen of having ties with Russia. The result of the criminal case and international scandals was the change of the Russian company owner of 1xStavka and its official founders.
In “1xBet” bets are not accepted
Publications about the problems faced by the clients of the 1xStavka bookmaker appeared online last week. At first, users complained about the inability to replenish their deposits, then problems with withdrawing funds were added to this.
Despite assurances about the possibility of withdrawing winnings without any delay, comments from commentators on specialized portals suggest otherwise. At the same time, information is announced about the disconnection of the bookmaker from the Unified TSUPIS system, which actually puts an end to any transactions of the office. The same “Rating of bookmakers” drew attention to the lack of the possibility of replenishing the “1xBet” balance through the regulator’s website.
The reaction to what is happening was the version of the company’s possible imminent exit from the Russian market, which is categorically refuted … by the 1xStavki telegram channel. At the same time, the specialized electronic magazine “IronBets” draws attention to the lack of comments from the official representatives of the bookmaker and quotes the forecast of the managing partner of the bookmaker’s office “PARI” Dmitry Sergeev, who stated:
In turn, the Legalbet publication is considering several options for further development of the situation: the possible withdrawal of the operator from Russia, which will lead to a redistribution of about 12% of the betting market; the actual presence of technical problems that will be resolved in the near future; finally, the change of the official owner and brand in order to get rid of the negative background, especially in light of a number of last year’s scandals. At the last moment it is worth dwelling in more detail.
“1xBet”: denominations and beneficiaries
In June last year, the Business Vector publication announced a change in the owner of the 1xStavka bookmaker: it was the hitherto unknown Saratov JSC Konstruktor, registered in 2014 and specializing in real estate management. The financial indicators of the enterprise suggest a company-laying, invariably declaring the absence of revenue and profit. For example, at the end of 2021, his losses amounted to 343 thousand rubles, and the value of assets was “minus” 2.9 million.
The authorized capital of “Constructor” is a minimum of 10 thousand rubles, only one employee is employed in it. The position of general director is held by Ekaterina Semenova, who until last November was the sole founder of the company, but then Albina Semiokhina replaced her in this capacity.
In turn, since June 2022 JSC “Konstruktor” is again the sole owner of Stavka Ru LLC, “registered” in Bryansk, which organizes and conducts gambling. Here the financial situation is radically different: the authorized capital of the enterprise is almost 217 million rubles; revenue in 2021 – 17.6 billion, profit – 7.8 billion, asset value – 42.6 billion rubles.
Before the last change of the founder, Stavka Ru was owned by the Cypriot offshore Yerlich Limited and Dmitry Kazorin, and even earlier by Roman Semiokhin, who is most likely a relative of Albina Semiokhina, who officially controls the legal entity of the 1xStavka bookmaker, but, as we will see further , which is a common denomination. We add that until November 2022, she led the Bryansk LLC Investcom, the sole owner of which is the same Roman Semiokhin.
Billions of “1xBet” “dissolve” in offshore
The name of this Bryansk businessman finally dots the i, pointing to the real beneficiary of the 1xBet bookmaker. The fact is that Mr. Semiokhin is one of the founders of the 1xBet bookmaker, whose activities are banned in Russia, put on the international wanted list together with his business partners Sergey Karshkov and Dmitry Kazorin (former co-owner of Stavka Ru) for illegal organization of gambling games.
According to investigators, the founders of 1xBet registered in Curacao in 2014-2019. brought abroad more than 63 billion rubles. Back in 2016, the company “Techinfusion Ltd”, which has a “registration” in Gibraltar and manages the bookmaker’s websites, was recognized as carrying out activities in violation of Russian law.
By the time the criminal case was initiated, law enforcement agencies received numerous statements from citizens who consider themselves victims of the actions of the beneficiaries of 1xBet. At the same time, the arguments of the complainants were extremely dubious:
“The logic is simple: if the bookmaker did not have the legal right to accept bets, then the loss was not real and the money needs to be returned,” – this is how the Nasha Versiya edition formulated the essence of the claims.
However, in October 2021, the Bezhitsky District Court of Bryansk issued the first conviction in the “1xBet case”. Taking into account the inaccessibility of the main defendants for the Russian Themis, Olesya Mospanova, the manager of the city network Bookmaker Pub, was on the dock, sentenced to three years in a penal colony with a fine of 800 thousand rubles for organizing and conducting gambling using the Internet: a woman took from players cash for subsequent crediting as bets on the 1xBet website.
Considering that Mospanova had a child under the age of 14, she was granted a reprieve from serving her sentence. Later, in the court of appeal, it turned out that the indictment had been drawn up in violation of the norms of criminal procedure legislation, since it was impossible to determine the place of the crime from its content. As a result, the scandalous case was returned to the Bryansk regional prosecutor’s office to eliminate the comments.
In order to introduce some clarity, let us clarify that the above-mentioned Bookmaker Pub network is nothing more than the company Stavka Ru, already familiar to us, which changed its “sign” in December last year and continues to bring its beneficiaries a multi-billion dollar profit. At one time, Semiokhin and his friends got it from the previous owner, Bryansk businessman Alexander Mironov, along with the 1xBet website. The reasons for the recent rebranding are easy to guess. Last but not least, this was facilitated by a criminal case and the arrest of the property of his main defendants on the wanted list: we are talking about 150 real estate objects with a total value of about 1.5 billion rubles. There were also a number of international incidents, which will be discussed below.
Ukrainian “bet” of Roman Semiokhin
Semiokhin, Kazorin and Karshkov prepared for their departure from Russia in advance. In 2016, they acquired the “golden passports” of Cyprus, in fact making the island their headquarters: the staff of their Cyprus office is about 400 people, of which 75-80% are natives of Bryansk. The finances taken offshore are invested by bookmakers in the construction of residential buildings in Cyprus, a shopping center, as well as two office centers in Limassol – on the 11th and 22nd floors. The cost of the latter is estimated at 35 million euros; it is planned to house Semiokhin’s headquarters.
However, abroad is also not without scandals. For example, in 2019, 1xBet entered into sponsorship contracts with Liverpool and Chelsea clubs playing in the English Premier League. However, the cooperation lasted only a few months, as the Gambling Commission notified the clubs that 1xBet did not have a license to operate in the UK, which made it illegal to place the bookmaker’s logos on the players’ uniforms. However, the company continues to cooperate with the Barcelona club.
What Semiokhin and his comrades prefer not to talk about is their Ukrainian projects. Meanwhile, according to the Life publication, Semiokhin and Kazorin received Ukrainian citizenship at least in 2014; the publication even indicates their address of registration in the Kiev suburb of Brovary. Wanting to emphasize their loyalty, last summer the bookmakers donated 1 million euros to support “Ukrainian citizens”. In addition, there were reports of 60 million euros allocated to the Ukrainian Armed Forces by TECHIIA, whose structure WePlay Esports acted as the Ukrainian technical operator for accepting bets.
But generous “contributions” and connections in the political and business establishment of the “square” did not help fugitive businessmen to develop in full force in Ukraine: in September last year, the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (CRAIL) canceled the licenses of Your Betting Company LLC (BTK ) – the official Ukrainian legal entity “1xBet” – for accepting sports bets and operating an online casino. This was followed by a total check by CRAIL of all organizers of gambling for “Russian connections”. Allegedly, even the Ukrainian passports of Semiokhin and Kazorin were canceled.
It is significant that in Russia, Roman Semiokhin, according to the results of 2021, took the 86th place in the rating of “100 most influential people in the Bryansk region” according to the online publication “News of Bryansk”. A year earlier, he transferred 40 million rubles to Bryansk to fight the coronavirus pandemic (for comparison: the businessman donated 1 million euros to the hospital in Nicosia, Cyprus). However, the practicality that has not failed Semiokhin has recently begun to fail: in Ukraine, 1xBet fell out of favor with the beginning of the CBO, in Russia, the indignation of the public and the media associated with the latest Ukrainian “investments” was added to the criminal case.
Now “1xBet” has problems. And if in the near future the bookmaker fails to agree with the Unified TsUPIS, the operator company may well repeat the path of “1xBet” up to the initiation of new criminal cases. It seems that Semiokhin and his Bryansk companions at a certain stage made an erroneous “bet”.