Russia to ban bets on non-sports events


russia-ban-non-sports-bettingRussia’s bookmakers are up in arms over their government’s plans to ban betting on non-sports events.

In April, Russian authorities published the draft text of a bill that would require bookmakers to pay a 10% tax on their online sports betting sales. Last week, the draft was amended to include a prohibition on betting on non-sports events both online and via land-based points of sale.

Some bookies are taking a philosophical approach to the non-sports ban, which, if approved, is scheduled to take effect this December. Maxim Afanasyev, deputy director of Russian betting operator Liga Stavok, told Bookmakers Rating that non-sports wagering was “a nice addition” to traditional sports betting but not “the driver” of Russian bookies’ bottom lines.

Taking a more strident approach was Konstantin Makarov, CEO of betting operator Bingo Boom and president of the Bookmakers Self Regulatory Organization, who called the non-sports betting ban “absolutely unreasonable.” Speaking with Betting Business Russia, Makarov said it would be far better if the government laid out specific regulations to govern non-sports betting.

Makarov was even more direct regarding the ongoing doubt as to whether the new 10% online tax applies to revenue or turnover. Makarov doubted whether the bill’s author had consulted with anyone involved in the betting business, or was even aware that bookies occasionally lose money when a majority of bettors get lucky.

Makarov said that the government needed to adopt a more reality-based position, suggesting the bill be amended to specify a proper definition of bookies’ “proceeds” and to establish a revenue tax of “no more than 5%.” Only then does Makaraov believe bookmakers will be able to meet the government’s goal of providing adequate funding to sports organizations.

Afanasyev struck a more government-friendly tone in an interview with Kommersant radio, saying Liga Stavok would be willing to pay a revenue tax as high as 20% if it had to, while admitting that paying 10% of online betting turnover would be fatal to its profits.

Russian tax authorities have had their knives out for online bookies this year, as the proposed 10% tax is on top of the recent 100x rise in monthly fees to operate in each of Russia’s 12 economic regions.