Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Belarus
Gambling is legalized in Belarus. The gambling market remains stable. The country offers numerous gambling facilities in various cities at relatively low prices. The legislation allows four types of land-based gambling facilities: casinos, game halls with slot machines, lotteries, and betting offices.
The first casino was set up in Belarus in 1992. There is no state monopoly on gambling; Belarusian casinos are owned and operated by a very diverse set of operators.
Laws and Regulators
There is no special Gambling Act in Belarus. The state authorities have always regulated gambling through presidential decrees and governmental regulations.
The Presidential Decree No. 9 of January 10, 2005 “On the Approval of the Regulations on Implementation of Activities in the Field of Gaming in the Territory of the Republic of Belarus” (http://www.busel.org/texts/cat9aa/id5fwnyec.htm) aims at the execution of gambling activities within the Belarusian territory. Gambling businesses are to be subjected to higher taxes and more rigid tax regulations by the Tax and Duties Ministry of the Republic of Belarus.
The Taxes and Duties Ministry of the Republic of Belarus regulates gambling, grants licenses, and oversees all gambling activities and facilities in the country. The Ministry official website is http://nalog.gov.by/ru/.
The Presidential Decree No. 305 of August 7, 2018 “On the Improvement of Legal Regulation of the Gambling Business” (http://president.gov.by/uploads/documents/2018/305-uk.pdf) came into force on April 1, 2019. The document legalizes online gambling in online casinos. In addition, the law provides the legalization of online betting terminals and bookmakers. To get permission to organize online gambling, an entrepreneur must be a legally registered person and obtain an official license.
Land Based Gambling
Recently, the Belarusian authorities have been liberalizing their gambling laws, and the number of casinos in the countryhas increased. There are about 20 casinos in the capital, Minsk, but Minsk isn’t the only city offering gambling. In addition, there are more casinos in other cities (Brest, Gomel, Mogilev). They are either local casinos or parts of international casino chains such as Shangri La (https://shangrila.by/en/) or Princess (http://worldofprincess.com/casinos/?c=nemiga-princess-casino).
The new decree (2018) rose the legal gambling age in the country. Gambling is now available to citizens over the age of 21. The entrance is free. Identity checks are required when entering a casino. Visitors must show their passport. In compliance with the law, players are to pay the 4% income tax on a winning within two weeks as well as declare this kind of income. Casino players are to verify their identity for claiming a winning. Casinos have to install surveillance cameras, while visitors are prohibited to lend money to other gamblers.
Legislation to legalize online gambling and establish a licensing system came into force in April 2019. Gambling operators are given the opportunity to legally register an online casino in Belarus, if appropriate license has been obtained. Online bingo, slots, and card games are permitted under the decree.
A transitional period will be provided through to April 2021. During this period, gambling operators can operate with special permits. Belarusian authorities are said to block access to internationally licensed online gambling sites who fail to acquire local licenses. The law requires international operators to base their servers on Belarusian soil. Foreign gambling websites that do not use the .by domain extension will be blocked. Organizing unlicensed online gaming will be illegal starting from April 1, 2021.
Online casinos must have a security deposit on their bank accounts to ensure payout of the winnings. New rules also require all online casinos to be connected to a special computer cash register system to control the cash flow. Visitors of online casinos should undergo strict identity checks.