In 2020, online sports betting operators licensed in Russia donated a record sum to local sports bodies. This was in spite of the lockdown that took several months off a number of sports activity because of COVID-19.

On Monday, the First SRO – also known as the First Self-Regulatory Organization of Russian Bookmakers – disclosed that its members contributed a significant sum of RUB923 million (US$12.15 million) to youth sports and Russian professional bodies in 2020. This is about 60 percent higher than the total RUB577.3 million that the First SRO members funded the local sport in 2019.

These quarterly contributions reflect the pandemic of last year that caused several disruptions to sports schedules. The first quarter total of RUB118 million dropped to about RUB79 million in the second quarter before it rose to RUB149 million in the third quarter as major league play restarted.

However, new laws took effect at the end of the third quarter which necessitated substantial contributions from Russian bookmakers. This is done by extending the tax to bets placed on every international sport. At the end of the day, it resulted to a total contribution of RUB577 million which is about four times the sum earned in the third quarter.

To better comprehend the latest rules’ impact, consider the fourth quarter sports kickbacks of the First SRO members, which equaled those sum made in the entire 2019. Keep in mind that during this year there was no pandemic or major market upheaval. The 2019 sum significant increase when compared to that of 2018’s RUB421.5 million.

The Bookmakers SRO, another betting industry association of Russia, recently disclosed that its 11 members contributed about RUB1.3 billion to sports in 2020. This sum was more than twice the RUB577.6 million they contributed in 2019.

Fonbet, a leading betting operator of Russia and a Bookmakers SRO member, contributed the bulk (about RUB818 million) of the association’s total outlay. Majority of Fonbet’s 2020 contribution (RUB703 million) was gotten in the fourth quarter and it represents a nine-fold rise from the fourth quarer earnings in 2019.

In 2020, Bookmakers in Russia offered a total combined contribution to sport to the tune of RUB2.25 billion, which is twice the contribution in 2019.

Surprisingly, bookmakers’ troubles in Russia are just starting because the government is asking for more sports contributions this year. A law approved on the 30th of December imposed another 1.5 percent tax on gambling turnover.

Also, the funds will be deducted at source by a centralized payment processing hub. This new hub will replace the existing hubs that used to process all betting payments.


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