LEGAL BETTING IN RUSSIA: WHAT HAS CHANGED IN 2 YEARS?

Publication date: 10 Jul 2023

June 2023 marks the 2-year anniversary of the creation of the public-law company the Unified Gambling Regulator (ERAI).

Since the start of ERAI (since October 2021), 21.2 billion roubles have been received from bookmakers and transferred to leagues and sports federations in Russia. 20% of these funds have been allocated for the development of children’s and youth sports. Therefore, Russian sports have become less dependent on budgetary funding and have obtained more resources for their activities. 

In addition, the Olympic and Paralympic Federations have received additional funding from bookmakers.

During the first quarter of 2023, the Unified Gambling Regulator has retained and distributed 4.1 billion roubles. Furthermore, the trend of targeted allocations continues to increase due to natural market growth, as well as due to the ongoing work of the Unified Regulator against illegal gambling organizers.

And how has the legal betting market in Russia changed according to players? You can find the data in the research “Betting market 2022: figures, dynamics, trends” from The Bookmaker Ratings.

The study found that sports betting website visitors believe the betting industry has become more transparent (42.8%), unchanged (47%) or less transparent (10.3%) since 2021.  

At the end of 2022, the betting volume reached 2.91 trillion roubles and the deposit volume reached 1 trillion roubles. Over the year, the volume of BC deposits increased by 22.1%.

At the same time, the share of the legal segment is 79%. As experts specify, in the near future, there is no reason to expect an increase in the popularity of legal betting. Despite the blocking of Russian cards in foreign bookmakers and tougher sanctions against Russians, ECUPIS reports an increase in the number of transactions to illegal betting companies. Only tax optimization by establishing a tax period of 1 year to calculate personal income tax on winnings similar to casinos could change the situation.

Legal bookmakers in Russia in 2023

According to the Federal Tax Service of Russia, 24 licenses were issued for the organization and conduct of gambling in bookmaker offices and sweepstakes in July 2023. 

  • Sportbet (“Sportbet” Ltd.); 
  • Poolbet (“Pyatigorsk Hippodrome” Ltd.), with poolbet.ru redirecting to Stavkinasport.com media.
  • “F.O.N.” Ltd., website 24bet.ru;
  • BetCity (“Fortuna” Ltd.);
  • LigaStavok (“First International Bookmakers Company” Ltd. / “PMBK” Ltd);
  • WinLine (“National Horse Breeding Union” Ltd.);
  • Pari (“Pari Bookmaker” Ltd.);
  • Bettery (“Atlantic-M” Ltd.);
  • Tennesi (“Rus-Teletot” LLC);
  • MarathonBet (“BC Marathon” LLC);
  • BetBoom (“FIRMA STOM” LLC);
  • BaltBet (“Satorin” Ltd.);
  • 1xStavka (“Stavka Ru” Ltd.); 
  • Zenit (“Invest Garant” Ltd.);
  • Alfabet (“Panorama” LLC); 
  • Leon (“Leon” LLC);
  • Melbet (“Melofon” LLC); 
  • Olimp (“BС Olimp” LLC);
  • Fonbet (“Fonkor” LLC);
  • GoldenBet (“Golden Bet” LLC);
  • “Bet-M” LLC, betmen.ru is accessible by password. 

According to The Bookmaker Ratings, Winline was in the lead in 2022 among betting shops in terms of popularity of use, while Liga Stavok was the leader in terms of customer loyalty. BC Fonbet was also at the top, in terms of spontaneous brand awareness and recognition.

In April 2023, legal betting operators in Russia have published their financial statements for the year 2022 and found out who earned the most.

Prospects for betting in Russia

The sports betting market continues to evolve. Among the improvements that have occurred recently is a new opportunity to be identified in a betting office.  This can now be done on the the portal of public services. This will significantly simplify the process for those who have a verified account: identification will not take more than 3 minutes.

Nevertheless, other changes await the gambling industry: stricter requirements from 1 September 2024. On 5 July 2023, the Federation Council approved a law prohibiting bookmakers from using slot machines, including online casinos. As explained by the authors of the bill, “individual organizers of gambling in betting shops or sweepstakes outside gambling zones use “fast gaming” technology, allowing to involve people in the game in a short period of time through high frequency of events, vivid game visualization of the process and a series of small cash winnings”. 

Russia has also proposed the creation of a special subdomain for licensed betting shops. It would be used as an identifier of legal operation on the territory of the Russian Federation.  “It is difficult for the average citizen to recognize which gambling site is Russian-licensed and which is not. Regarding illegal gambling sites, it is not always possible to promptly block access to such resources, so a person may register there by mistake and end up in an unprotected position,” said Ivan Sukharev, a Duma deputy and the author of the initiative.

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