Belarus Finally Adopts Online Gambling Bill

A justice hammer and poker chips

Belarus is moving closer to online gambling, and that’s great news. After Poland has taken a rather hawkish stance on the matter. Following a report from BelTA, a national newspaper, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has been moving on creating a favorable environment for the segment.

Oh, Glorious Tuesday

Mr. Lukashenko signed a piece of legislation on Tuesday that provides the legal framework for the industry and couches it in the needed terms to see things take off. Mr. Lukashenko’s deal also defines the companies that can run such virtual casinos and the prerequisites they will need to meet prior to launching their operations.

However, the law is not a blind go-ahead which overlooks the consequences of legalizing the industry. Quite to the contrary, the government has thought of common issues such as licenses and taxation.

With these two conditions met, the country may push ahead and establish its industry in full force. Belarus is also treading carefully. Instead of allowing casinos to operate right off the bat, the country will want to see some hard currency upfront.

A security deposit will be asked of all businesses that want to run such activities as proof that the casino will be able to pay back what it owes to its punters should it end up in the red.

The Gambling Age

Even though Belarus is not severe on matters such as drinking and access to driving classes for youthful adults, Mr. Lukashenko’s law doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 21 to participate in gambling activities online, and by extension – offline. With the revised law that specifies on virtual establishments, the legal age has been rise from 18 before the amendment.

However, brick-and-mortar shops will not come under hefty taxation pressure following the change. Instead, they will have three countries to prepare and consider whether they want to develop their activities online. Taxation will remain unchanged in the period, allowing them to amass the financial heft to pour into new investments.

The upgraded bill is also a way for the country to bring its own gambling laws closer to those of EU member states in the region, albeit not all of those is open to accepting gambling with open arms.

The Likely Implications

Nothing has been said about international operators. The majority of brick-and-mortar casinos in the country are local, state-owned, and mostly appealing to a Russian-speaking majority.

With this in mind, the bill hasn’t been explicit about offshore or foreign companies. However, as long as a company may put down a security deposit, it’s unlikely to experience any trouble with obtaining a license.

Still, operators will need a lot of local help to tailor their offer. A potential audience is Ukrainian gamers who also speak Russian. Belarus has good ties with Moscow and a thoroughfare connects the country with Russia’s capital.

The future of online gambling in Belarus is definitely on the cards. However, it’s going to be predominantly East-oriented, which may not be exciting news for the operators who cater to the majority of Europeans.


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