Russian sports betting business on verge of major change

If there was ever a good time to be a regulated sports betting operator in Russia, that time is rapidly passing. That’s because late last week, Russian lawmakers moved one step closer to approving a series of laws that will take a major chunk out of the bookmaker’s pocket and put it back in the hands of the federal government. It’s a nightmare come true for regulated operators, and it’s one that they’ve seen coming for a long time.

At the heart of the matter is a bill that was approved by both of the Russian legislation bodies, the Duma and the Federation Council, on Christmas Day. Under the terms of the new rules, licensed Russian sports betting operators would be required to hand over 1.5 percent of their turnover on domestic events to that sports’ particular, domestic sports federation. (It’s as if American operators were forced to “donate” 1.5 percent of their turnover on college wagering to the NCAA.)

But local sports federations aren’t the only ones who will be dipping into the bookmaker’s profits under the new rules. Sports betting operators would also be required to chip in 1.5 percent of the action to the operator of as-yet-to-be-determined private company that would be handling all of the sports betting transactions. Any operator who decides to opt out of the new system will also be opting out of the regulated Russian sports betting market and would have to surrender their gaming license.

The new bill is only awaiting the signature of Russian President Vladimir Putin and would go into effect in September of 2021.