Maxim Krippa, the prominent figure behind online casino Vulkan and cyber sports bookmaker GGBet, has made waves in Ukraine with his extensive acquisitions of media outlets and valuable state real estate. What’s intriguing is that both Vulkan and GGBet, despite their Russian origins, were granted licenses to operate in Ukraine by the Gambling and Lotteries Regulatory Commission.
The investigation into Maxim Krippa and Tetyana Snopko unveiled by “BlackBox OSINT”
An investigative report by the agency “BlackBox OSINT” sheds light on Maxim Krippa’s assets and activities, raising eyebrows in Ukraine. This scrutiny began in January 2023 when a Dnipro resident named Tetyana Snopko made significant purchases of online media platforms like delo.ua, mmr.ua, womo.ua, the printed magazine TOP-100 (Communication Hub Ekonomika LLC), and the edition Glavkom (Ukrainian Media Systems LLC). These acquisitions, allegedly made on behalf of Snopko, a relatively unknown player in the media industry, are estimated to have cost between 3.2 to 4.3 million dollars. This raises questions, considering that Snopko’s declared income for 2018-2021 was just around UAH 4 million.
Tetyana Snopko’s Connection to Krippa and Polyakov
Investigative journalists have drawn links between Tetyana Snopko and the true owners of these media outlets, who are none other than Maxim Krippa and his business partner Max Polyakov. This revelation casts doubt on the transparency of these acquisitions, as Snopko, who owns only a 42-square-meter flat in a Dnipro “khrushchevka,” is revealed to be a PR manager for Krippa and Polyakov.
The History of Maxim Krippa and Max Polyakov in the Gambling Business
Maxim Krippa and Max Polyakov have long-standing business ties in the gambling and cybersports sector. Their collaboration began around 2014 when they ventured into developing the online casino Vulkan. Originally initiated by Russian gambling tycoon Oleg Boiko through Ritzio Entertainment Group, Vulkan’s rights were later transferred to Krippa and Polyakov’s company, EvoPlay—an IT firm specializing in online casino game development.
Interestingly, the trademark “Vulkan” in Ukraine is held by Cypriot company “DAREOS LTD,” which also secured the trademark in the European Union Intellectual Property Office in 2021. A similar company, DAREOS HOLDING LTD, controls the trademark in Russia, and both entities share the same address in Cyprus and managerial personnel. This suggests a common beneficiary for Vulkan’s operations in all countries where the online casino operates.
SBU’s Attention to Illegal Activities of Maxim Krippa
In 2016, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) initiated investigations into illegal websites operating under the “Vulkan” brand. During these inquiries, Max Polyakov and Maxim Krippa were implicated for funneling earnings from online casinos into fictitious companies and offshore accounts, subsequently distributing profits between themselves. Additionally, funds were discovered to have been directed towards financing separatist groups “DNR” and “LNR.”
Accusations Against Russian Billionaire Oleg Boiko in context of Krippa’s affairs
Oleg Boiko, the original owner of the Vulkan trademark and a partner of Polyakov and Krippa, faced allegations of financing the Russian army during this period. His business interests extended to the Ukrainian lottery Patriot and the Russian Pobeda lottery.
The Connection Between Krippa, GGBet, and Vulkan Casino
An ongoing investigation reveals a direct association between Maxim Krippa and the bookmaker GGBet, which has garnered attention for its connection to Vulkan casino. It is discovered that Concueror LLC’s beneficiary was Fedor Fedorov until 2021, with Maxim Krippa serving as the director of Novolodzhik in the past. Fedorov now manages Cypriot companies One World Secretarial and Brivio Limited, which oversee various aspects of Krippa’s business, including MainCast broadcasting studio and GGBet’s Russian division, Bet.ru LLC. The latter also owns websites gg.bet and vulkanvegas.com.
In a series of noteworthy acquisitions, Maxim Krippa secured control of the cyber sports company NAVI in 2022, along with businessman Oleksandr Kokhanovskiy. They jointly purchased the Dnipro Hotel on Khreshchatyk Street in Kiev for UAH 1.1 billion. In addition to this, Krippa’s Midal LLC acquired the hotel and restaurant complex Knyazhyi Dvor from the National Bank for UAH 33 million, as well as a substantial estate in Koncha-Zaspa and Kozin villages near Kyiv for UAH 311 million. This expansive property comprises multiple residential buildings, a boathouse, a restaurant, and various land plots.
Regulatory Renewal and Presidential Sanctions against Krippa’s bookmaker companies
Despite the Russian origin of both online casino Vulkan and bookmaker GGBet, the Gambling and Lotteries Regulatory Commission renewed Vulkan’s license to operate in Ukraine in January 2023, and GGBet obtained a license in August 2023. Notably, in March 2023, President Volodymyr Zelensky imposed sanctions on the Russian bookmaker GGBet through a presidential decree.
Upcoming Changes in the Ukrainian Gambling Business: Maxim Krippa struggles to maintain dominance
The Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, is in the process of considering further changes in the gambling sector. Draft law No 10101, registered in October, proposes amendments to the previously adopted law that legalized gambling in 2020. These developments promise to continue shaping the landscape of the gambling industry in Ukraine.