Finance Ministry softens sports industry tax to one percent

Russian bookmakers have welcomed the Finance Ministry’s decision to soften the requirements in which bookmakers and totes need to give part of their proceeds for the development of sports.

The new version of the bill was published on the government’s official website on November 15.

According to the latest version of the bill, the ministry plans to charge bookmakers one percent of their revenue once a quarter, compared to the earlier proposed three percent.

The latter was met with fierce criticism by leading bookmakers, who complained that if implemented, it would drive them out of the market.

The move was welcomed by Russia’s leading bookmakers, including Darina Denisova, who heads the self-regulating organization Association of Bookmaking Shops.

“I am glad that the Finance Ministry has given ear to the position of the betting community and was able to promptly make adjustments. But I want to add that this is only the beginning of a dialogue between the state and bookmakers. Our industry still needs well-defined “rules of the game” in regard to taxes, which would be clear and reasonable for licensed market participants. It is the lack of tossing to and fro in the fiscal issues that should become a much-anticipated step of the authorities towards the betting community,” she told Russian sports publication Championat.

Bingo Boom president Konstantin Makarov expressed a similar opinions, but noted the new bill would still be difficult for bookmakers.

“The Finance Ministry’s proposal to allocate 3 percent of the profits was simply unfeasible for the industry. One percent is hard, but doable. It is certainly good that the state, albeit not through direct contact, has given ear to the bookmakers. Through open letters, public debates, discussions in the media. And the situation has more or less got closer to reality. But in my view, only bookmakers with over 200 operating betting shops will be able to shoulder such payments. And according to our information, there are no more than 10 of them in Russia,” Makarov said.