New Straits Times
Burgeoning illegal gambling in Russia casts shadow on World Cup
MOSCOW: collapse of the Soviet Union and led to glitzy casinos and seedy slot machine halls opening across Russia.
They skirted paying taxes but were not strictly illegal.
The government tried to impose order by shutting them all down in 2009 and allowing bookies to open sport betting shops that instantly gravitated toward football.
Improved internet access pushed most of these punters online and produced a legal vacuum filled by scores of anonymous websites with no licences but burgeoning business.
Russia’s Bookmakers Rating gambling analysis centre pegged the entire industry’s annual turnover at US$11.8 billion (RM46.4 billion) in May 2017, 65 per cent of it made in illegal online bets.
It also expected the market to triple in the next five years thanks to high-profile events such as the World Cup.
“We expect colossal interest in the World Cup,” said Alena Sheyanova, spokeswoman for the legally registered bookmaker Leon.