Leon.ru becomes Russia’s fifth legal online betting site

By Caroline Watson
Russia now has officially five legal online sports betting sites after media regulator Roskomnadzor approved Leon.ru.

Following the approval of the Russian government, Leon is the fifth online betting site to open, joining Liga Stavok, 888.ru, Winline and 1xStavka (1xBet). However, the four existing sites belong to the First Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) of Russian Bookmakers, whilst Leon belongs to rival Bookmakers SRO.

The Russian bookmaker operates over 300 retail points of sale under the Federal Tax Service Licence #20, which was issued to Leon’s previous corporate identity, Euromir.

Earlier this year, the Russian Government altered its online gambling regulatory framework, putting forward the proposal that licensed bookmakers would be charged with a 10% tax on betting wagers.

Leon’s chairman Nikolai Oganezov stepped down last week after “losing his patience whilst trying to get the two rival SROs to cooperate in lobbying the government on betting issues”, as the approved legislation is contradictory and unclear.

Roskomanadzor has reinforced its stance on unlicensed bookmakers targeting Russian consumers. In 2016, the media regulator blocked IP access and further restricted banking and payment transactions of offenders.

However, Oganezov claims that most international operators “will find ways” around IP-blocking and that players will consistently opt for online options that are “simple, fast, impersonal and without draconian taxes”.

Nonetheless, in January, it was reported by Russian new sources that European betting operators, Triobet, Betway, Unibet, 888Poker and bwin.party brands had been blacklisted by the media regulator.

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