Russian bookies skeptical over gov’t plan to introduce sports betting right

russia-sports-betting-rightRussia has proposed new legislative amendments that would require the country’s licensed bookmakers to pay a fee to use the names of sporting events.

Last month, Russia proposed amendments to its federal law on Physical Culture and Sports in the Russian Federation. Among these amendments is a requirement for totes and bookies to negotiate deals with sporting event organizers for the right to use an event’s name, logo and other distinguishing marks for betting purposes.

Should a bookie use said marks without first striking a deal with the organizers, the proposed amendment would give the government the power to set rates as well as the responsibility for collecting and distributing the fees. The money raised via this scheme would go toward the construction of youth sports facilities as well as helping to fund the sporting events on which the fees are being levied.

Russian gambling news outlet suggested bookies might attempt to avoid paying such fees by using language that is different from the actual event in question but which punters could readily understand. (Canada’s provincial lottery corporations used a similar workaround when they first launched their Sports Select parlay wagering product, which lacked league support, so they listed teams by their respective cities.)

Anastasia Krasnova, general director of Russian bookie Pari-Match, called the proposed amendment a new tax grab and expressed doubt that sporting event organizers would see much benefit from it. She noted that the proposed changes did not list penalties for bookmakers who fail to negotiate the necessary rights nor spell out a mechanism for monitoring compliance.

The idea of ‘betting rights’ has taken hold in the UK, where the government’s 2015 budget promised to introduce such a right for the country’s rapacious racing industry. Last year, the Labour Party proposed a similar right covering all sports bodies. Similar sports betting rights have been a goal of many European sports bodies but have not progressed beyond the aspirational stage over concerns such a plan would violate European Union rules on restriction of trade.

Russia is in the process of a significant overhaul of its sports betting industry, including plans to officially license online bookmakers and tax sports bettors’ winnings. The government has also proposed loosening restrictions on bookies signing marketing deals with Russian sports teams and Fonbet was so excited it inked a title sponsorship with Russian football’s second division, even though the legislation in question has yet to be formally approved.