Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree under which online gambling is now legal in the country, Belarusian state-run media outlet BelTA reported on Wednesday. Citing Lukashenko’s press service, the website says that the document is part of a new legislation aiming at improving the regulation of the gambling industry in Belarus.
The decree, signed by president Lukashenko on August 7, allows gambling operations to be conducted on the Internet by licensed establishments. For the first time in the history of the small Eastern European country, online casinos will be able to legally offer their services to Belorussian citizens. The document includes various licensing specifics and new taxation laws that would require gambling operators, whether online casinos or land-based gaming parlors, to meet strict criteria.
Also Read more: Ireland Revenue’s Crackdown on Gambling Machines
The first change set by the legislation includes increasing the minimum gambling age from 18 to 21. This applies to both virtual and brick-and-mortar casinos and aims at minimizing the negative effects and potential threats of gambling. Parlors are required to install video surveillance systems, while visitors in these establishments will no longer be allowed to lend money to other people who want to gamble. Along with the new rules land-based casinos need to comply with, the decree also includes many conditions that online gambling operators need to meet before they can be granted a license.
Organizers of online gambling operations will have to make a guarantee deposit of no exact amount that would cover payouts of customer winnings, taxes, and other payments in case of insolvency. All users who register accounts and play for real money at Internet-based casinos will undergo identity checks. Interestingly, tax authorities will have to receive a remote access to online casinos, although it is not clear what exactly this access would include. In addition, all casinos will have to join a special payments network where all money flows will be monitored by the authorities.
Online Gambling to Help Diversify the Belarus Economy
According to BelTA, the Belorussian Telegraph Agency, the new decree would cut down the outflow of money to offshore gambling websites. Local players’ access to foreign gaming and betting platforms is expected to become much more limited due to the new requirements. As a result, Belorussian operators should see increased revenues, boosted by the proposed reduction in tax rates. According to the provisions, planned by the government, operators who use gambling equipment of any kind only temporarily (less than 15 days in the tax period) will need to pay a tax that is roughly 50 percent of the current rate. This move should stimulate businesses to conduct short-term gambling operations such as poker tournaments, games during weekends, etc. More importantly, the new regulations and the introduction of online gambling in the country are expected to help diversify the Belorussian economy, which has been dominated by manufacturing for years. With the latest changes, the government is trying to avoid overregulation and encourage the opening of new gambling operations in land-based facilities and on the Internet.
Also Read more: Nairobi County Seeks 30% Casino Revenue Share
By stimulating this sector, it is hoped that the country would boost the tourism significantly. Currently, it accounts for approximately 1 percent of the entire economy of Belarus and some experts believe that this percentage could easily be pushed to 5% in the next few years.