Gambling in Belarus
Belarus is an Eastern European state, where most of the modern-day varieties of gambling are allowed. Today, gambling in Belarus is accessible. There are over a dozen land-based establishments operating in the territory of the country. Gambling business law presents no formal ban on operations of online casinos in the Republic of Belarus. At the present time operations of gaming internet resources are virtually not regulated at the legislative level.
Online Casinos in Belarus
Belarusian segment of the Internet is currently regulated only by the Decree of President Alexander Lukashenko On Measures to Improve the Use of the National Segment of the Internet. The Decree does not address any aspects of online casino operations. The only aspect that indirectly relates to virtual gambling in Belarus is the amendment to the law that lets bookmakers accept bets through the Internet. The situation in this segment is twofold: There are no legislative bans on setting up operations of online casinos, nor are there any mechanisms provided that would allow the operations of these websites to be run at the legitimate level.
Gambling Games in Belarus
These are the slots that are most played among Belarusian players: Book of Ra by Novomatic, Sizzling Hot by Novomatic, Crazy Monkey by Igrosoft andGonzo’s Quest by NetEnt. Belatra is the most popular Belarusian developer of gaming software. This company has not released too many slots, yet many of them are very familiar to most of the experienced players from Eastern Europe. These are the ironic Chukcha slot themed to dwellers of the Far North, the Fairy Land slot themed to the adventures of a magic frog, and slots called Lucky Drink and Alcatraz. Belatra's portfolio also includes the following developments: Africa Gold, Anotherland, Jewels, Lucky Drink in Egypt, Piggy Bank, Princess of Swamp, The Elusive Gonzales, The Ghost Walks and The Spanish Armada. Belatra has been in business for over 20 years. The company's corporate headquarters are located in Minsk. The company has its subsidiaries in Ukraine, Russia, Argentina and the US.
Today in the Republic of Belarus there are the following regulatory acts that apply to the gambling industry:
- Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus dated 10.01.2005 No. 9 On Ratification of Regulation of Gambling Activities on the Territory of the Republic of Belarus
- Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus dated 01.09.2010 No. 450 On Licensing of Certain Types of Activities
- Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus dated 19.11.2010 No. 599 On Certain Measures to Improve the Implementation of Activities in the Gambling Business
- Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus dated 12.01.2011 No. 31 On Approval of the Regulation on Operating in the Gambling Business in the Republic of Belarus
- Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus dated 29.12.2011 No. 1762 On Approval of the Regulations on Operations of Special Computer Cash Register System that Provides Control over the Turnover in the Gambling Business and over the Monitoring Centre in the Area of Servicing in the Gambling Industry
- Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus dated 18.02.2011 No. 211 On Certain Measures for Implementation of the Decree of President of the Republic of Belarus dated November 19, 2010 No. 599
- Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus dated 31.12.2014 No. 44 On Approval of the Model Rules of Internal Control Implemented by the Organisers of Gambling
Belarusian laws allow three types of gambling: casino games (cards, roulette, dice, etc.), slot machines and bookmaking. All citizens who have reached a full age can play in casinos. Belarusian laws allow players to impose their own restrictions on accessing gambling facilities from 6 months to 3 years. An appropriate application must be filled out, which can later be called off. Casinos have no right to admit the persons who imposed these limitations on themselves. The application can be filled out either by the player or his/her immediate family members.
Gambling licenses in Belarus are issued by Tax and Duties Ministry (Ministerstva pa padatkah i zborah Respubliki Belarus). To obtain the license, an application must be submitted, which contains the prospective gambling operator's legal address, list of services to be provided and tax registration data. The licensee must also attach copies of organisational documents and registration documents of a legal entity, along with the state fee payment receipt. The decision is made within 15 working days starting the day the documentation package was submitted. License fee is 500 basic units. This is a dynamic economic indicator formed from the current purchasing power of the national currency. Gambling license in Belarus is issued for 10 years.
Companies, whose managers have been employed there full-time for at least 3 years, and which have the premises with appropriate characteristics, can qualify for a license. The operator must run the gaming establishment in compliance with all legislative requirements, provide safety for the players and commit to the guarantees of fair play.
Development of the Gaming Market in Belarus
Even though there have been no laws passed in Belarus that would regulate operations of online casinos, there is no reason to believe that the country will ever follow the example of its Eastern European neighbours. While in Ukraine and Russia the first step in regulating the virtual gambling was a complete ban, there is the opposite trend being observed in Belarus. For instance, in 2016 the Belarusian government initiated the creation of an offshore zone in the country, where foreign operators of virtual gambling could register their businesses and place physical servers. The idea has not yet been elaborated on, but the very fact of the initiation shows that Belarusian authorities are not intended to start regulating online casino operations by introducing any restrictive measures.
As far as land-based casinos are concerned, this sector is closely regulated and characterised by a relative stability. Establishments in Minsk are widely popular not only among the locals, but also among foreign visitors who come to Belarus exactly for that purpose. They are mainly players from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey.
So, the Republic of Belarus can fully claim the status of one of the friendliest countries towards gambling and players. The laws are lenient and based on reasonable limitations instead of bans.
Tax rates on the gambling industry in Belarus
In 2017, amendments were adopted, according to which new tax rates for land-based gambling establishments in Belarus will be effective starting from 2019: 7140.95 BYR - per gaming table, 241.53 BYR - per slot machine, 2,250 BYR - per sportsbook pool betting and1,500 BYR - per bookmaking counter. So, for a slot machine the tax bracket remains unchanged, but for a gaming table it will be larger than what it used to be — 6314.8 BYR, for sportsbooks — 1,300 BYR, and for bookmakers — 6,000 BYR.