Reports: Russia in throes of illegal online gambling ahead of FIFA World Cup

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Reports: Russia in throes of illegal online gambling ahead of FIFA World Cup

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SportsCafe Desk

03/04/2018

Reportedly, 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia, is facing a steep task ahead of the football extravaganza with millions of dollars being poured into its online gambling industry. As per analysts, the industry's annual turnover was $11.8 bn in May 2017 and is expected to be triple in next five years.

With the Soviet Union’s collapse organized gambling sprung up to the fore like a disease in Russia, which led to the nation getting filled with casinos and slot machine halls. Though it shadowed paying taxes, they weren’t illegal as such. When the government tried to shut them down in 2009, it allowed the bookies to come up with sport betting shops that unfortunately gravitated toward football.

With the passing of years as the internet became more efficient, the bookies got access to numerous unlicensed anonymous websites that mushroomed into huge businesses. Now, ahead of the World Cup, the government has a difficult task to control and as per reports, at least a billion dollars have been poured into offshore Russian accounts linked to the online gambling industry.

"The total turnover volume of the legal and offshore online bookmaking market is more than two billion dollars (1.6 billion euros) a year. We do not pretend to know if the actual figure is $2.5 billion or $4 billion. Around 70 percent of that is illegal, offshore business," said Anton Rozhkovsky, the director of the government-mandated TsUPIS online betting payment system, reported AFP.

With the online gambling industry, which had a turnover of $11.8 billion last year, only expected to grow manifold in the coming years as betting companies are expecting humongous interest during the World Cup.

"We expect colossal interest in the World Cup. The legal online betting industry is developing at phenomenal rates," said Alena Sheyanova, spokeswoman for the legally registered bookmaker Leon, told AFP.

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