Belarus Lawmakers Mull Gambling Law Reforms

Online gambling may be legalised

Lawmakers in the Eastern European nation of Belarus will soon have an opportunity to debate and vote on tighter overall gambling rules in the country, along with a proposal to regulate and licence online gambling.

Local media reports indicate that the Duties and Tax Ministry has completed work on a draft proposal on the changes, and that this has been forwarded to parliament for the attention of legislators.

The head of the Ministry, Sergey Nalivaiko said that the draft document provides for an increase in the age limits for visiting gambling establishments from 18 to 21 years. There is also a provision banning visitors to land and online gambling sites from borrowing virtual or real money or chips from other gamblers present.

The draft seeks to streamline the present bureaucratic system that requires operators to register gambling machines, gaming tables and cash desks. Instead, it proposes that accounting for these requirements will be made through connections to a special computer cash system (CCS), allowing to operators to pay taxes due on gambling based on the actual throughput of gaming equipment to the CSK.

For those operators who use the gaming equipment for less than 15 calendar days in the tax period, it is proposed to reduce the fixed rate of tax on gambling by half. As a rule, these are new gambling operators, organisers of poker tournaments, or those who modernise the gaming equipment or repair it.

For online totes and bookmakers there will be a transitional period – two years from the date of entry into force of the provisions of the draft decree. During this period they will be able to carry out activities on the basis of a special permit and thereby adapt to the new requirements for online operators set by the decree.

Minister Nalyvayko explained to local media reporters that changes to gambling tax are not immediately envisioned.

“At this stage, considering the planned legalisation of online gambling and additional investments needed to organise a new type of activity in the gambling industry, the Ministry of Taxes and Duties does not plan any changes in the taxation policy of this activity,” he said.