Russian government plans to do away with three self-regulating gambling bodies have triggered a debate in which interested parties appear to be divided.
The Ministry of Economic Development’s announcement that it is framing new laws to scrap three self-regulating bodies in the sports betting and sweepstakes online verticals has raised questions regarding a duplication of activity by the self-regulatory bodies and the federal Russian Tax Authority.
The self-regulating bodies were useful in establishing the regulated and licensed online betting market several years ago, particularly in the set-up of the TSUPIS payment hubs, but supporters of the government proposal suggest that they are duplicating the tax service function and are now no longer necessary.
The reaction of opponents to the government’s plan ranges from incredulity to confusion, with some alleging that self-regulating organisations have played a key role in ensuring that Russian- licensed operators dominate the online betting market.
Others have gone so far as to suggest that the move to abolish self-regulating outfits is part of a plot by illegal foreign operators alarmed at being deprived of business by the efficacy of the bodies, or that the initiative has the potential to reduce the online betting sector to “chaos”.
Sweepstakes self-regulators claim that the government’s plan for a national self-exclusion register for problem gamblers administered by the self-regulating authorities could be disrupted by the move to do away with self-regulation, and reminded officials that self-regulators also play an important role in handling player communications, especially those regarding complaints against operators.
Government plans for the new year include further hearings on the issue, where the views of a wide cross-section of interested parties will be sought.