Russia Enforces Online Gaming BanPublished April 23, 2014 by OCR Editor
The Russian prosecutor's office is cracking down on online gaming, banning over 50 websites from offering their products in Russia.
In March 2014, Russia's federal telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor received a demand from the Russian Prosecutor's Office for a list of gambling websites to be blocked to players in Russia. This demand has the legal backing of a 2012 Russian Supreme Court ruling, which declared that Internet Service Providers MUST block gambling sites within the country.
Since the Prosecutor's Office received the list from the Roskomnadzor, more than 50 gaming websites have been blocked in Russia, including Pokerstars, Ladbrokes, SportingBet, UniBet, Betway and TitanPoker.
Russian poker players make up a large portion of the online poker market; thus, gaming sites around the world are concerned that blocking Russian players from online poker will deliver a blow to the industry, the likes of which have not been seen since American players were required to leave the global market on Black Friday, 2011.
Gaming Operators Exclude Russian Players
Due to the uncertain situation in Russia, many gambling operators have decided to close their doors to future Russian players, including Betclic, EverestPoker, Bet-at-home and Unibet Group. Unibet issued the following statement:
"Unibet has taken the decision to temporarily close registrations from Russia. This means that it will no longer be possible for customers from Russia to sign up on Unibet.com or Maria.com. This change will take place immediately, but will not affect existing customers. It will also still be possible for customers to sign up from all other Russian-speaking countries and those markets should not be affected at all. Russia will no longer be listed as an option for country of residence on the registration form of Unibet.com or Maria.com."
Russian Gaming Intelligence stated that "while a limited number of gaming domains currently appear on the list, it is believed that this is the start of a much wider crackdown on online gambling." The global online poker industry will await Russia's next move.