Gambling in Russia is legal in four authorized zones. These are the Primorsky Krai, Kaliningrad Oblast, Krasnodar Krai and Altai Krai regions. Sochi and Crimea were added when a new gambling bill passed in 2014. Sportsbooks and the state lotteries are legal throughout Russia. The limited sportsbooks are led by 1xStavka, Winline, 888.ru, LigaStavok and Leon. Bwin is powered by GVC Holdings, operated by Digital Betting and entered the market in November of 2017.
Russia banned online gambling. Online casino games became illegal in April of 2017. There is a loophole enabling Russian gamblers to access foreign sites for online betting. The government has dealt with this by demanding a block for all websites relating to gambling from the ISP on Russian based devices. Russian gambling began in 1917 after the revolution. Soviet rule banned all gambling in 1928 for Russian territories. This changed when Foreign Tourism of the USSR State Committee introduced slot machines into hotels in 1988. The gambling ban was lifted in 1989. The first casino then opened at the Savoy Hotel in Capital City. There were over fifty casinos in Moscow by 2002.
In 2009, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was sent a report linking organized crime to legal gambling. This issue was dealt with by a gambling ban. Four zones were legalized by the government to accommodate tourist gambling. The Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi and the bid for the World Cup of 2018 influenced this decision. There are no gambling taxes in Russia. The state has had control of casinos and sportsbooks since 2014. There are only taxes if the gambler wins. The Russian rate for single income tax is 13 percent. This is taken off any gambling winnings.
If gambling winnings occur at a Russian casino, the winner must fill out a tax return. This states how much they are required to pay in tax. If the win is at a bookmaker the bookie takes the taxes from the win to give to the state. There has been controversy regarding Russia hosting the World Cup in 2018. This is regarding the black market for gambling that started when gambling was banned. Analysts believe only 35 percent of the $11.8 billion spent in Russia for sports betting is through institutions approved by the state. The remainder is due to illegal operations.
The World Cup in Brazil in 2014 generated revenues exceeding $1 billion for the industry of sports betting. The revenue is expected to increase for the competition during the summer. There is no way of knowing how much of this will be capitalized on by Russia. Vladivostok’s Tigre de Cristal casino was a shocking success. This proved the Russian people want gambling. At this time government is not embracing the possibilities.
The irony is the attempts of Putin to handle gambling associated crime may force the criminals to use the gambling black markets to earn more money. The hopes are illegal gambling will not taint the FIFI World Cup so the fans will be able to enjoy both Russian culture and the tournament.