A trio of stories making headlines in the iGaming world shows that while online gambling may be controversial in the United States, international locales are increasingly interested in getting in the action.
Russian Sports Betting Should Double by 2022
A recent report by the online sportsbook review site Bookmaker Ratings predicts that the Russian market will grow at a rate of more than double between now and 2022.
Per the study, Russia’s existing market for regulated sports betting currently hauls in an approximate annual handle of 677 billion rubles (USD$10.1 billion) – but that number is expected to jump to 1.4 trillion rubles (USD$22.4 billion) during the next five years.
The government of Vladimir Putin authorized legal sports betting in 2014, replacing an entrenched system of illicit underground bookies and offshore sites – a fact which Bookmaker Ratings viewed as a potential hurdle to those lofty growth goals:
“The main obstacles to the transition of players to the Russian legal bookmakers, are the complexity of identity verification and desire of players to avoid playing personal income tax.”
Factors driving the predicted boost in annual handle include the entrance of established European sites via an expanded licensing process, and the commencement of the 2018 World Cup.
At the moment, Russia licenses 29 operators to accept real money wagers on sporting events, 11 of which maintain online platforms.
Jamaica Set for Legalization and Regulation
A report published on June 18 by the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian detailed measures taken by prominent government officials who are actively pursuing iGaming regulation.
Audley Shaw, who serves as Minister of Finance and Public Service, recently delivered an address to the 7th Caribbean Gaming Show and Summit. With the Jamaican government considering an iGaming bill since 2014, Shaw revealed that international online gambling operators have been invited to apply for licensing:
“Since last year, the Casino Commission has met with two large international investors, which are now advanced in the preparation of their applications for Integrated Resource Development status.
With these developments, there is a lot of optimism for the growth potential of the gaming sector.”
In 2014, Member of Parliament Horace Dalley spoke to the Jamaica Observer and outlined the case for iGaming regulation:
“Internet gaming is happening right now in Jamaica. Therefore, it is time that we make that progression to this methodology of gaming, as Jamaicans are already well-equipped with the devices to facilitate this.”
Shaw provided his own justification, observing that the country’s gaming sector recorded revenues of JD$111.25 billion (USD$863 million) in the 2016/2017 fiscal year – up from JD$91.9 billion (USD$713 million) year-on-year.
Kenya Implements 35 Percent Tax on Operators
Responding to the rapid rise of online sports betting and lottery sales in Kenya, legislators recently enacted a heavy tax burden on operators which is designed to curb the industry’s growth.
After initially proposing a 50 percent tax on revenue for iGaming companies – which was rejected by the country’s president Uhuru Kenyatta – lawmakers in Kenya compromised with a 35 percent tax hike.
That tax obligation adds to the 30 percent corporation duty imposed by the Kenyan government.
The legislature reached its agreement on the final day of the current session, amending the Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming Act’s current 15 percent tax on iGaming revenue by more than double.
With a federal election on August 8 looming, president Kenyatta issued a stern statement which positioned the tax hike as a tool to increase fees charged by operators, and thus reduce the demand for online betting products:
“The purpose of the amendment of section 59B of cap 469 was to discourage Kenyans and especially the youth in directing their focus on betting, lottery and gaming activities instead of productive economic engagements, a vice that is likely to degenerate into a social disaster.”
In recent years the Kenyan media has highlighted the country’s online sports betting craze, typically covering stories of young and impoverished bettors who fail to find their fortune online.