Betting in Belarus

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Also referred to as Belorussia or Byelorussia, Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. For many decades it was part of the former Soviet Bloc and only gained its independence in 1991 after the Cold War ended. The population has since grown to over 10 million citizens, who are governed by a President and a National Assembly as a Republic, with the capital based in Minsk.

The majority of legal gambling activities in Belarus are located in the proximity of the capital, led by licensed casinos. Indeed, of 32 government-sanctioned gaming facilities within the country, fully 27 of them can be found within the city limits of Minsk, including seven branches of Club Admiral.

Minsk is also home to the nation’s largest gambling hall, the Juravinca Princess Casino, which contains 7,530 square feet of gaming space. It features 74 gaming machines, eleven table games, a hotel and a bar, open 24 hours daily all year round. Roulette and Blackjack are highly popular, along with Poker.

Two casinos are located in Hrodna near the Polish and Lithuanian borders, and one each can be found in Brest, Gomel and Vitebsk. These outlying facilities not only provide recreation for local residents but also serve as attractions for tourists from neighbouring nations, such as Ukraine, Latvia and Russia. Players must be at least 18 years of age.

Of special interest to foreign visitors, the currency used on live table games is the US Dollar. However, it is necessary to purchase dollar-denominated cash chips from the casino cashier with Belarusian Rubles. That means changing any Dollars or Euros to Rubles at the currency exchange desk before playing. Upon cashing out, the process must be reversed, and of course a slight commission is lost on each exchange.

Both national and regional lotteries are offered in Belarus. These have grown in number significantly since 2007, when a presidential decree was issued to expand the list of organizations eligible to sell lottery tickets. Lottery vendors are now easy to find, and almost all of them offer tickets for the Belarusian National Sports Lottery, SuperLoto, the only operator granted a permit to sell its products via the Internet.

Registration, account support, acceptance of payments, and payouts of winnings in lumps sums via the SuperLoto web site are guaranteed by the Ministry of Sports and Tourism. Information on participation is provided in English. Non-residents of the Republic of Belarus can receive prize wins in their cash equivalent as opposed to Rubles used locally, and all winnings in the lottery are tax-free within the country.

Bookmakers do not have a formal presence in Belarus, where there are no recognised racecourses or betting shops. However, that has not stopped Belarusians from wagering, especially on international events, but taking advantage of the many online sportsbooks that welcome their play.

In total, some 466 sports betting sites accept bets made from Belarus. They include Bet365, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Gamebookers Unibet, BetFred, Expekt and Party Bets, to name just a few.

In recent years, the trend in Belarus has been toward greater control over and regulation of betting activities. In 2005, gambling-oriented businesses were made subject to tighter tax regulations. Additionally, gamblers themselves are now required to produce some form of identification in order to claim their winnings—a step taken to help combat money laundering.

In 2010, President Alexander Lukashenko expressed his concerns about corruption and criminality in the gambling industry and called for “well regulated” operations as a solution to raise government revenue. In 2011, his government went on to propose the creation of a $1 billion gambling centre near Minsk Airport, anticipating an increase in gambling tourism as nearby Russia invokes more restrictive gambling laws.