Will casinos return in Russia in 2017?
Today many people are concerned about the possibility of gambling, namely slot machines and casinos returning to the territory of Russia. Recall that casinos in Russia have been banned since 2009 (except in specially designated gambling zones). The reason for the restless on this subject resulted in the introduction of a bill aimed towards amending the regulations of the Lotteries Law. The essence of the amendments is to ensure that the state lottery machines (in fact, the typical slot machines in a new wrapper) can be legally installed in all Russian cities. The reading of the bill is scheduled next week and (presumably) it will be adopted in April, despite all the protests. Let's walk you through some of the future changes:
Amendments to the Lotteries Law in Russia in March 2016
- First of all, there is a term "video lottery terminal" (abbreviated VLT) in the new version of the bill.
- Most likely, VLTs will give players the right to draw a certain number of virtual tickets.
- Tickets will be played instantly, directly on the screen.
- That is why only the appearance of the gaming machine will be changed. Knowing the greed of our business, I think that these games will work more or less the same as slots such as Crazy Monkeys and Fruit Cocktails.
- It is likely that all devices will be combined into a single network with the introduction of automatic results on purchased tickets and paid winnings. It is from this register that payments on taxes will be covered.
- It is important to remember that a tax on winnings in Russia is paid to those who have won (for example, by the player).
- The RTP (return to the player in the form of winnings) on lottery machines will be set at around 50%. In other words, if a player loses $1,000 he has the opportunity to win $500 of them back. For example, in NetEnt video slots this parameter varies from 90 to 98% (see the right column).
The public is against the changes
What has changed since 2009 when a ban was placed on casinos and gambling in Russia? Why have actions been taken to bring gambling back? I believe that these actions will inevitably lead to the situation mirrored at the end of 2009, with reservation to the "lottery" instead of casinos and slot machines. It is clear that we need money in the budget and that the state’s lottery monopoly promises huge amounts, but:
- The public strongly criticised the upcoming changes in the bill. Social movement "I love Russia" even made a petition to the Russian president's name and gathered more than 80,000 signatures.
- The state monopoly on slot machines will kill legitimate casinos that were opened in the gambling zones. The situation in the gambling zones is complicated and after the emergence of the one-armed bandits in the city streets; the meaning of their existence will cause even more problems.
- Problem gamblers once again fall under the blow. After all, there is no legal framework for self-exclusion. And given the lack of system and the autonomy of each of the lottery machine, the player cannot be excluded.
- Again, it is not clear how it is planned to protect minors from participating in such lotteries.
- Having in mind the distance from Moscow more lotteries only superficially resemble the state.
- An RTP of 50% is extremely low regarding value.
It seems that the choice of "easy way" has become a tradition in Russia. Of course, the easiest way is to allow the use of video lottery terminals. This step will produce quick "dividends" and requires no additional software. The main questions are: protecting minors and providing help to problem gamblers, the issue of reporting taxation and real tools in combating illegal VLT.