by Katerin Cruz on January 4, 2021

Putin signs a new law – changes in Russian gambling legislation

Gamblers in Russia have always experienced certain problems. The online gambling industry participants frequently experience problems as it’s completely banned. The authorities consider any kind of betting activities illegal in Russia, not to mention the fact that even land-based gambling is restricted. But now changes are coming as Putin finally decided to examine existing law and create unified gambling legislation.

The president already declared a revision of the law which is not something favorable for Russian bookmakers. Despite the restrictions, Russians usually gamble online with offshore operators but changes in the sports betting regulation may prevent this activity as well.

Putin gives green light to betting overhaul legislation

On Wednesday Russian President officially announced that he accepts an overhaul of the country’s online sports betting industry. Online gambling will be regulated more strictly by the right of a new bill. Roskomnadzor, the federal executive body responsible for censorship in media and telecommunications in Russia, will block online resources that are considered discriminating against Russian media. Moreover, from now on the users will require biometric information in order to access various financial and public services.

But what is more important for Russian bookmakers is the fact that Putin approved the plan to create a Unified Gambling Regulator instead of two existing regulatory bodies. before now, there have been two Self-Regulatory Organizations (SROs)  that regulated the gambling market in Russia. Now the government realized that having one single regulatory approach is more advantageous for the market, which is why they plan to revise gambling-related legislation.

By the right of the bill, there will be developed a centralized payment processing hub, and all Russian online gamblers will have to flow through this hub. Therefore, two existing payment hubs will be controlled by just one private regulator. This is probably the end of operating for two rival Self-Regulatory Organizations that had been regulating the gambling market in Russia.

According to the new bill, the gambling authority will have a possibility to access all data that involves online betting transactions in the country. However, who will take the place of the regulatory body is unknown at this moment.

The worst possible year ever for Russian bookmakers

As experts suggest, now as Putin has already signed the new law, 2021 is probably going to be the worst year ever for the Russian bookmakers. Needless to say that they will lose all the control they had over the market because now this new single hub will have the power to withdraw 1.5% of the value of every bettor. They will take 1.5% even if the bet is made by a foreign player and it doesn’t only involve bettors from the Russian sports federation.

According to the government, the new law is very important for the country and its entertainment industry because this tax will contribute to raising funds. This money will be used to fund Russian sports activities. However, bookmakers have been skeptical about this law and tried hard to make the Duma reconsider it. But Putin didn’t take their protest into account which made it clear that the government had decided to make this law even longer before the bill was introduced.

Even though the Russian bookmakers are still refusing to pay the increased tax, everyone who declines to connect to the new payment hub will be restricted to run their gambling operations in Russia. Therefore, probably they will get used to the law whether they like it or not.

Previous attempts

Although experts believe that the law had been created a long time ago, this is not the first time when the government tried to make gambling-related regulations harsher. Previous drafts of this law demanded bookmakers to give at least 5 million RUB per quarter to the Russian sports federation. However, the Duma changed its mind about this law because the bookmakers warned that they would do everything in order to avoid this tax and stop offering markets every betting activity except major Russian sports.

Now instead of 5 million, they will be required to contribute at least RUB 30 million per quarter. While large bookmakers may absorb this new tax, smaller bookies will probably have to stop operating until the law will be revised again. The new rules will start functioning after 270 days from the signature day. The law was officially published online Wednesday when Putin finally signed the bill.

By Katerin Cruz

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