Russian gambling operators are facing another obstacle to business in the country, as the government is proposing another amendment to Russian gambling laws, allowing regional governments to ban bookmakers.
Back in 2007, many Russian poker rooms and betting shops faced closure, too, but the local laws were overridden by federal licenses owned by the premises. Now, however, it looks likely that bet shops will join casinos on the list of gambling establishments banned outside 4 gambling zones.
In 2009, Russia isolated casino gambling to four remote jurisdictions, and the previously mentioned 17 regional governments were given the opportunity to lift the bans. This resulted in 5 of them taking this chance and removing the ban. The other 12, including Dagestan and Chechnya, kept the restriction.
Oleg Zhuravskiy, head of the local bookmakers’ Trade association, commented that implementation of the bans recently proposed by the Ministry of Finance could cause the closing of 400-500 betting houses. This is around 10% of Russia’s total complement and will affect the jobs of almost 3,000 employees, in addition to significant loss of tax revenue for these regional governments.
Moreover, there is another draft of the proposed amendment that would require the regional governments to follow the example if the five districts that eliminated the ban in 2009.
Zhuravskiy commented further that he expects new legislation by February 2014 that would legalize online sportsbooks in Russia. This is great news for Russian operators, but would negatively affect international gambling sites operating in the country. Russia will probably follow the example of France and Italy, which allowed foreign companied to continue doing business, but only if they had local license.
Interesting times for Russian casino providers and lovers are coming up in 2014. Everyone there is waiting to see what will happen in the future.