Bingo: Russia nationalizes lottery business

Gosloto lottery outlet on Profsoyuznaya Street, Moscow. (RIA Novosti/Georgiy Kurolesin)
The Russian government plans to ban private lotteries and increase revenues of the state-run games ten-fold. Experts suggest the new rules could see record breaking Russian jackpots.

­The new legislation on lotteries will prohibit all private lotteries from 2014, Vedomosti daily reports. Private firms will only be allowed to hold lotteries that advertise a product or service, the paper cites the government documents. The Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Sports will be the only organizers of all-Russia games to raise funds to0 support sports and for World Cup 2018 preparations.

The proposal to ban all lotteries except those at a federal level came from the Ministry of Economic Development. According to their calculations the annual federal budget revenues from lotteries could increase from 1 billion to 10 billion roubles, which is around 30 million dollars.

The decision is being made to protect consumers. The current lottery business is opaque, according to the sources in the government cited by Vedomosti daily.

The biggest win in the history of Russian lotteries was 100 million roubles, which is about $3 million. That’s much less than the jackpots in the US, where last week a couple from Missouri shared the second largest lottery win in the country’s history – a $587.5 million Powerball jackpot.
Market watchers say fewer and bigger state-run lotteries may boost Russian jackpots.

About 7% of Russian citizens always play the lottery. This number could rise if the guarantor of justice will always be the state. Consolidation of funds under 2 or 3 lotteries will significantly increase their jackpot because they will collect more money and the opportunity to win would drop significantly, which means the money will be stored for longer. The funds collected will stay longer on bank accounts making a profit,” Darya Pitchugina, analyst at Investcafe told RT.

At the moment Russia’s lottery business is mainly private. The Federal Tax Service has issued 4,000 licenses since 2005. There are only three federal state lotteries held by the Government.

It’s not the first time Russia has reformed gambling, where it has been prohibited since 2009. Now casinos can only be opened in four remote areas. The Ministry of Internal Affairs regularly reports the closure of underground casinos, including in the center of Moscow.