Russia is known for its charismatic character and implementing some radical measures and matters. Russian Federation is definitely not an example of the democratic approach in any industry and the fact of disobedience and the unsatisfied population is very frequent. Despite this, the Russian government still never hides the depreciation of people and individual companies for generating more income from specific industries and activities.
The problem occurs around the fact that Russian betting operators may soon find themselves under the watchful eye of new gambling regulators, whose chief responsibility will be ensuring the collection of controversial new taxes. And this once again proves that big brother is watching and that the only and the primary responsibility interest lies in the finance only, and not the quality of the industry.
It was announced last Friday, that two deputies of the ruling United Russia party submitted new draft legislation to the Duma that aims to amend gambling laws to create a “Unified Gambling Regulator” under the control of the Ministry of Finance. The bill number 1055657-7 was then forwarded to the Committee on Economic, Policy, Industry, Innovative Development, and Entrepreneurship for further discussion. This means that the policy is slowly being taken under the consideration and we should not be surprised to see the approval seal on the law and it is enforced very soon.
The new regulator, which will be formed under the united regulator for the gambling industry will have new obligations, which will come along with the tasks like getting tougher with the unauthorized gambling operators, the toughest ones should be around internationally operating gambling operators, and internationally licensed sites, which offer products prohibited by the Russian law. Those products include online casino and poker games.
The problem with gambling online is that the transactions which are proceeded via the banks and credit cards are visible to the government, meaning that you can not play online casino games without being noticed. Once noticed means facing fines for illicit activities. The only possible way to get away is to play online casino games with crypto because the crypto transactions simply are untrackable. The same reality might come to the betting operators, because of the increased taxes set by the new law.
The Russian-licensed bookmakers will pay increased taxes to the local sports bodies, which is according to the new regulations. The news was announced back in October, when the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin expressed his own support for a proposal to increase the taxes aiming at increasing sports funding at least twice. The current revenue is 5% and each bookie is now responsible for a minimum payment of RUB30m (US$394k) per quarter. The Ministry of Finance has introduced legislation to achieve this result but the 1055657-7 bill proposes a tax rate of 1% of betting turnover, with each bookie responsible for a minimum payment of RUB5m per sports league.
The new law also proposes the ensure with the law and thus sculpting the system of the online payments under which Russia’s top two bookmaker associations, also known as SROs operate their own hubs as TSUPIS. Obviously, none of the representatives of the bookmakers seemed happy about the new initiative and expressed their disguise as well as opposition to the new law. The representative of the companies also found it unacceptable and another source for consumption and the way for putting money into the pockets instead of true investment in the sports industry. The fact which makes the situation even more and the expenditure, even more, is that the taxes will not only be deducted from the local events but from the international events as well.
Consequences still developing
The reaction was severe and we definitely get why. The president of SRO Nikolai Oganezov, publicized his statement, mentioning that the government appeared fewer concerned with funding the sports rather than destructing a well functioning and positively proven mechanism of the Russian bookmaking industry. He also mentioned that the transparency of the companies’ funds was never an issue for the 4-year operation period, and moreover, it did not have to be questioned even now. The statement also said that people taking this decision might seriously be lacking the experience and knowledge of the relevant spheres and that the bill was intended to bring the whole operation of SROs down.
Another person to clearly and publicly fix his position was Yuri Krasnovsky, the president of the SRO and member of Liga Stavok. He said that the increased sports duties for the operators will make everyone face a little or no choice at all. This will cause the disappearance of the small bookmakers. He also questioned the pure intention of the bill and found the desire of the Ministry of Finance to have a united regulator suspicious.
Dmitry Sergeev also was among commentators stating that the new legislation should lead to the fail of the bookmaking industry and that the small companies are most likely to sink, diminishing the governmental tax-raising potential.
While the situation is definitely not the best of all, there is a little choice for the bookies if the law is accepted by Duma. The bookmakers who shall survive the tough times will most likely cease the contracts with the teams in order to provide enough funding. Or another choice that they might face is crypto payments. In case some of them switch to the crypto payments and proceed with most of the revenue transfers online with cryptocurrencies, the total outcome and income shall still stay invisible to the governmental officials, leaving the financial part private to the companies.