Politicians in Russia have moved towards reform of the Russian sports betting system, through accepting the second and third readings of Bill 647044-7, which proposes big changes to the sports betting rules. Originally presented to the state Duma on 30 April, the bill will amend existing federal rules for the regulation of gambling in Russia.

The bill proposes to allow the Kremlin to implement  new limits on the types of sports events that punters can bet on, as well as in increase in the financial obligations associated with Russian sports betting licences. These include a new rule that licensed sportsbooks will only be able to accept bets that have been officially sanctioned by domestic or international bodies.

There remains some grey area in the bill’s interpretation of what counts as an international sports events, but the bill is clear that to qualify, international sports events will have to be monitored by a corresponding governing body with oversight of the event’s business.

In addition, the Kremlin will push ahead with expanding its quarterly 5% tax charge to international betting, in order to help fund Russia’s wide-ranging sports federations, a tax that was only previously applied to domestic betting events.

Further amendments include giving the Kremlin new legislative powers to directly suspend or terminate any bookmaker licence if the operator fails to meet tax obligations or for any firm that has failed to register their wagering activities for a period of six months. The Kremlin has also increased the legal obligations of licensed bookmakers. Operators will now have to maintain a minimum liability of €6 million in bank guarantees, along with €12 million in net assets.  

The latter measure was sanctioned due to the fact that 14 licensed sportsbooks had been exempt from the liability clause as they had earned their licences prior to 2010, before the existing financial requirements had been introduced.

Currently, Russia maintains 20 licensed sportsbooks that have been approved by the Russian federal tax authority. The new bill, which will have a significant effect on the market, will enter effect 60 days after it has been officially published. This won’t happen until the President approves the bill and other technicalities are resolved, with analysts predicting this could happen by mid-autumn this year.

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