SBC Summit: CIS economy and the impact of gaming regulations

Maxim Afanasyev, CPO of Liga Stavok, noted that Russia is not exempt from the general trend worldwide of tougher regulations as he debates the impact of gaming regulations within the CIS economy. 

Speaking on the first day of the SBC Digital Summit CIS as part of the panel ‘Impact of Gaming Regulations on the Economy’, Afanasyev discussed the impact gambling regulations have had in Russia. 

Asked what the Russian government could have done better in relation to sports betting and gambling regulations, Afanasyev highlighted the growth in Russia over the last 12 years.

He said: “We should go back to 2008 and things were changing quickly and gambling was banned. Sports betting was at risk of being completely banned but thanks to the dialect one of our founders was able to create with the authorities, we managed to convince that we should keep sports betting.

“One important thing was created back then and that’s an understanding that sports betting is not gambling but first of all, it’s a way to support national sports in Russia and this is where things started to change.”

Afanasyev emphasised that Russia were ‘on the right path’ when it comes to sports betting being the industry that supports sports and the sports federation. A relationship that he claimed is ‘improving year on year’.

He continued: “It was a tough path. Our industry is quite complicated and it’s hard sometimes to explain that, for example, you can not charge a regular ten or 15 per cent on the turnover although for a majority of other industries the turnover would be the right parameter to set a tax on but not for gambling and for sports betting.

“I should also highlight that the general trend worldwide is that the regulation becomes more and more tough along with the conditions and Russia is not an exception here. 

“We’ve recently seen changes to the regulation and starting from oct we are paying 5 per cent on specially targeted contributions to sports federations from our GGR. Previously it was five per cent on local sports only.

Explaining a situation Afanasyev found himself in the same room as the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, he explained: “There is a new thing that is currently emerging and precisely one month ago there was a board meeting on the Russian sports development that involved the Russian President (Vladimir Putin). 

“He was also there and part of the discussion, and the Minister of Finance declared that sports betting contributed $15m over the last year as this targeted contribution to sports but he also mentioned that it would be great if this figure could be at least doubled.

Joining Afanasyev on the panel was Yurii Shevchuk, head of compliance and regulations at Parimatch, and Bachana Shengelia, head of sector research at Galt & Taggart.

When asked by Machavariani if a CIS region can use gambling as its main driver for its economy, Shevchuk responded: “It might be for little countries, for example Georgia, but for Russia, for now no because there is only betting legalised… For Ukraine it might be in some particular regions because we see that there might be a good collaboration, especially in casinos. 

“Historically we have very good relationships with Turkish investors and they can build hotels, they can build roads, and they can build infrastructure and bring money… so maybe they will join and it will be like casino tourism to Ukraine. 

Shevchuck concluded by drawing comparisons to Malta: “If we compare with Malta then maybe in Georgia, yes. Malta is a little island that was built and its economical strengths over the last few years, it’s linked with gambling, with digitalising and cryptocurrencies and they want to be the leaders in Europe.”

SBC Digital Summit CIS (4 – 5 November 2020) is the leading virtual conference and exhibition for the betting and gaming industry in the CIS, Ukraine and Georgia. It features more than 70 expert speakers sharing insights and ideas about the future of markets across the region, with all 18 conference sessions available both live and on-demand. 

Delegates can also enjoy a programme of networking roundtables and an interactive product display area showcasing the latest industry innovations. Click here to register for your free pass.