The gaming industry in Belarus is in a state of flux, with positive changes on the horizon. Until recently, Belarusian casino sites were considered illegal and the government actively attempted to block access to offshore gambling sites. Players even faced potential fines for accessing unlawful online casinos.
However, that is all set to change. A decree introduced in mid-2018 sought to legalize, regulate and tax online casinos in Belarus. President Alexander Lukashenko signed the decree in August of 2018 to start the ball rolling.
The decree signed by President Lukashenko states that international gambling operators may apply for licenses to offer their services in Belarus. Licensed online casinos are required to grant the government remote access to their operations, enforce a minimum age of 21 to play and use a special payment system designed to track the flow of money.
As of this writing, the industry is in a state of change and no casinos have received licenses. Things are moving in that direction, but it will be some time before the first truly legal online casinos go live.
Previously, Belarusian gaming laws did not specifically target gambling websites. They instead made it impossible for anyone located in Belarus to open an online casino and difficult for people to even access international gambling sites. Furthermore, the government actively monitors internet usage in Belarus and is willing to hand out hefty fines to people found visiting restricted websites.
Needless to say, Belarusian online casinos were practically nonexistent under that system. International casino sites do accept customers from Belarus, but accessing those sites is both risky and technically challenging. The government has even gone so far as to prohibit the use of Tor and other anonymizing tools that could be used to circumvent internet blocks.
To provide a sense of how bad the situation is, internet café owners are required by law to note the identities of all customers and keep records detailing the websites they visit. Café owners are also required to notify authorities if a customer attempts to access a restricted website, or face punishment themselves.
The legal environment is so hostile to online casinos in Belarus that we cannot recommend you play online until the first licenses are awarded. If you are absolutely determined to gamble online right now, we strongly urge you to stick with foreign gambling websites that are based out of countries in which online casinos are legal. Doing so mitigates some of the risk due to the simple fact that foreign operators are not subject to Belarusian police raids.
Is it safe to visit online casinos in Belarus?
No. Belarusian law still prohibits citizens from accessing unlicensed online casinos and may fine anyone caught participating in unlawful internet gambling. Laws enacted in 2012 call for a 1 million ruble fine for anyone caught accessing restricted websites, and unlicensed online casinos are on that list. It would be better to wait until the first licenses are awarded.
Belarus maintains tight control over information across all mediums. As Freedom House notes, the Belarusian government has granted itself broad powers to monitor the internet, restrict access to websites and persecute journalists who are critical of the government. Most of these powers are exclusive to the executive branch of the government and therefore provide almost zero chance of appeal.
With that being said, we do offer a few recommendations of where to play on this page. Our reasoning is that some people are going to decide it is worth the risk and gamble online anyways. At the very least, choosing a reputable provider will lower the risk just a little bit and help you avoid losing your hard-earned money at the hands of rogue operators. The Belarusian government will not help you if something goes wrong, so you might as well stick with reputable providers.
Rumors that Belarus is considering opening its own state-run gambling website have persisted since 2014, but we have not seen any real action on that front in subsequent years. Given Belarus’ warmer relationship with real-world gambling, it seemed somewhat likely that the government would be amenable to some form of limited online gambling.
Additionally, the prospect of new tax revenues has always proved tempting for lawmakers around the world. The lure of additional tax revenues may prove even more tempting with Russia’s economic downturn affecting Minsk casinos. A 2015 article from the Guardian reported that upwards of 80% of some Minsk casino’s patrons originate from Russia.
The introduction of a new gambling law in 2018 confirmed these suspicions. Again, none of the casinos you see listed on this page have received licenses as of this writing – the law has been approved but has not yet taken effect.
Real World Gambling in Belarus
Brick-and-mortar casinos in Belarus are treated with a much lighter touch in Belarus. Real world gambling is legal and dozens of casinos operate across the country. Minsk has a particularly high concentration of casinos that cater to Russians who make the 90-minute flight from Moscow in an effort to get their gambling fix.
When Russia banned gambling across the country outside of specially-designated zones located far from population centers, it left the Russian people few options to whet their gaming appetites. Before long, well-heeled Russian began making the journey to casinos in Minsk as that was faster than traveling to one of Russia’s remote gambling zones.