The online sports betting market in Russia is about to change. President Vladimir Putin signed new legislation this week that will impose stricter oversight of the internet in Russia. Telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor will be given the authority to block online sites that are considered discriminating against the media in Russia. Examples include social media sites like YouTube and Facebook. Customers will also be blocked from certain public services and financial resources.
With so many changes coming to the country, it is one area in particular that bookmakers are worried about. Putin signed a measure that will create a Unified Gambling Regulator in the country. Russia currently has two Self-Regulatory Organizations that will now be abolished. These groups represented locally licensed operators in the past.
The new measure will also establish a single centralized payment processing hub. All online betting must take place through this hub. This new option will take over the two payment hubs that were operated by opposing Self-Regulatory Organizations. The new hub will be operated by one private company.
The payment hub will take 1.5% from each wager, no matter the type of bet. The tax will raise funds to help sports activity in Russia, according to lawmakers. However, bookmakers think the tax will be used in other ways.
Other drafts of the measure required bookmakers to pay RUB5m each quarter to every Russian sports federation. However, this was quickly removed once bookmakers said they would stop offering markets on everything but major Russian sports leagues to not have to make the required payment.
The new measure does required bookmakers to pay RUB30m each quarter. Some operators may be able to afford this amount, which equals to around $403,000 in USD. However, there are smaller companies that cannot pay up and will stop offering services in the country. VulcanBet is one such operator that is pulling out due to the payment change.