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Sports Betting in Belarus 2019
Belarus as it is known today, has been an independent country in its own right since 1991. Despite being located in a region which has been historically strict when it comes to gambling, Belarus has had a fairly relaxed approach to casinos, with 35 (mostly located in the capital Minsk) in operation.
The Belarusian casinos have been quite successful and their business has been boosted by the large number of Russian tourists who visit the country to gamble (draconian gambling laws in their own country make it difficult). Due its fairly lax laws, Belarus has been dubbed the ‘post-Soviet Las Vegas’. The flagship casino is the Shangri-La, which was opened in 2009 and was the first to be licenced by the Belarusian Ministry Of Sport And Tourism.
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From a legal perspective, the online landscape isn’t so rosy. In early 2012, a new law was passed which made it illegal for Belarusian citizens to access any foreign websites not hosted by a .by domain.  Although this wasn’t targeted specifically towards the online betting market, its imposition rendered the vast majority of established European operators’ websites illegal. Individuals using computers in internet cafes are required to identify themselves and records of their use must be kept for a minimum of a year. Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) are required to provide details of all the activity of their users to the government if required. The reported fines for individuals breaking the law are up to (£77/$200), which when considering the average monthly wage in the country is around $200, are quite harsh.
There was some light at the end of the tunnel for citizens of Belarus who hope to gamble online legally. In 2014, the government announced plans to develop and run their own online gambling portal. This would give individuals access to domestic based online firms who have been licenced by the government. 
Belarusians Can Still Bet Online
Whilst the laws are in place to prevent citizens of Belarus gambling online, that does not mean its citizens do not have access to a number of sportsbooks from around Europe and the rest of the world. After all, many bookmakers just want business, and if there is no ramifications for the firms, then they leave the responsibility of whether a player’s actions are legal or not to the individual.
Given the current legal situation, it would be wise for Belarusian customers to use an online e-wallet such as Neteller or Skrill to fund their betting accounts. Credit and debit card transactions may be reported to the police, and there is more anonymity when using an e-wallet.
Popular Sports to Bet On
They may only be ranked 100 in the world by FIFA, but football is a very popular sport in Belarus. Their star player of recent years has been Alexander Hleb, a tricky midfielder who made his mark on the English Premier League with Arsenal. The Belarusian Premier League is the professional league in the country, and has been dominated since its inception by Dinamo Minsk, and BATE Borisov, with the latter named becoming the first Belarusian team to reach the group stages of the Champions League.
As a former Soviet nation, it is no surprise that Olympic events such as weightlifting, gymnastics and wrestling are all popular in the country. In the last 50 years, Belarus have had 68 Olympic champions in a wide range of different events.
The Belarusian Extraleague was formed in 2006, and is the top ice hockey league in the country. Over the years it has allowed foreign teams from places such as Latvia and Ukraine to enter, but as it stands the league is made up of all Belarusian sides. The capacities of the arenas vary from 1,000-3,000, so whilst ice hockey is a popular sport, the venues still remain fairly small.
What Does the Future Hold?
The Belarusian economy has previously benefitted from being one of the only countries in its region to operate fairly lax gambling laws. Imposition of legislation in 2012 making it illegal for citizens to use websites not located in the country, has created a problem for punters who want to continue to gamble without getting fined. However, the plans for licensed domestic operators gives bettors hope and should be implemented in the not to distance future.
In reality, individuals can continue to bet with many major bookmakers around the world, they just have to be careful (deposit with e-wallets, use VPNs when possible) and willing to accept any fines for being caught.