The National Association of Professional Gamers and UFA, which stands for “Union of Amateur Sportsbook Professionals,” has announced plans to expand its business in Russia. The association expects to open an office in Saint Petersburg. Ufa is considered as the largest and most successful sportsbook chain in Russia and its headquarters is located in the village of Pavlovsk, near Ryazan. It has a strong presence both online and offline in several countries including Russia, France, Italy, Spain, India, Belgium and the United Kingdom. The association’s goal is “to unite all lovers of sport and the spirit of the famous Russian roulette, to work together and create new fans,” according to a statement released by the association’s General Secretary Alex Mandossian.
The rapid growth of ufa’s operations in recent years surprised the wagering community. “The financial situation of ufa had been deteriorating for some time,” said Vasili Sougansky, head of Gashow Media, a division of Konstantin Khrenov, the owner of ufa. “Gashow’s revenue is not as high as we had expected it to be, but the volume of clients served by ufa exceeds our forecasts.” According to reports, the revenues of ufa reached up to USD 250 million in 2012, which makes it one of the largest sportsbooks in the world. “The growth rate of business in ufa is increasing every year, even in a difficult economic situation like the present one in which almost all entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to secure funding from sponsors and investors,” said Khrenov. “We had always envisaged ufa as a world leader, but now we are seeing how quickly this can happen.”
The rapid expansion of ufa is a result of the fact that the global poker scene has largely turned to ufa for its betting opportunities. According to some reports, last year over USD 100 million was placed in bets across the world on ufa matches. Among the cities that have seen the maximum number of players placing bets on ufa are London, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Beijing and Taipei.
The head honchos of ufa had earlier this year appointed their new chief executive, Kirilenko, a former world cup champion in poker, a player with the same prowess at blackjack. While no exact number of players placing bets on ufa games is known, the city center of bashkortostan has seen an exponential rise in players over the past few months. One prominent ufa player who recently spent a week in the city center was shocked by the sheer number of people waiting outside of the central bashkortostan house. “There are hardly any restaurants around here, and the number of people waiting for a place to eat is so great that I almost lost my appetite,” said the player, who did not want his name to be released.
The capital of belaya has been a favourite hotspot for football fans throughout the preseason. Belaya football fans have also been seen travelling to ufa games from all parts of Russia and the surrounding region, many of them travelling by coach. Most of these people are Ultras, which have been spotted at many pre-season games, holding the banners of clubs supporting the teams. With such popularity for ufa, it has not been a surprise that the number of people who have become millionaires is fast increasing as well. Although, there has been some economic jostling for the title between the cities of bashkortostan and belaya, with some cafes selling out of croissants and tea before the match and some businesses having to make a run of last minute deliveries to the stadium, most people are happy to leave the tens of thousands of dollars they have paid in anticipation for the match without blinking an eye.
Both the Bashkortostan and Belaya cities enjoy good infrastructure, with the capital of delay having an international airport and a train station. Both cities also enjoy modernisation, with the trains being replaced with electric ones, which cut down on the time needed to get to and from the stadiums and the metro being constantly running. Other than that, both cities have very good transport links, with trains and buses being able to get people to their destinations in a matter of hours. Both ufa and bashkortostan are sure places to watch matches, especially those involving famous Russian internationals like Alexeyev, Hulk, Kovalenko and others.