Russia isn’t a gambling-friendly nation. Legislation passed
in 2006 banned online gambling while legislation passed in 2009
banned all forms of gambling across the nation except in four
designated zones. Nevertheless, Russians continue to gamble
online at unlicensed offshore operators.
The Russian government also maintains a blacklist of websites
that all ISPs are required to block. Included in the list are
porn sites, websites that promote criminal activity and, of
course, anything related to gambling. The censorship program
isn’t perfect, but it does make it difficult for Russians to
access any form of internet wagering.
Things weren’t always this dire. Prior to 2006, most major
international gambling sites were accessible to Russians. There
were even companies based out of Russia that offered their
services to citizens. That all changed in 2006 when Russian
updated its laws to ban internet gaming and restrict access to
casino sites, poker sites and sportsbooks.
It is still possible to place bets online in Russia; it just
isn’t easy. The Russian ISP blacklist does a pretty thorough job
of filtering websites that offer real money games to Russians.
That list was updated again in 2014 and it now includes the
likes of PokerStars, Party Poker, Full Tilt, Intertops, and many
other big names in poker and gambling.
Most of the sites on the blacklist continue to offer their
services to Russian players. The only problem is many of those
players can’t even access the websites today. This leaves it up
to the player to find a way to log on.
Is it Legal to Play Online in Russia?
Individual Russians face little risk in placing bets over the
internet. There are laws on the books that stipulate a small
fine for being caught gambling online, but it appears that
there’s little interest in pursuing individual gamblers. Russian
authorities are focused more on those who run gambling sites and
underground betting parlors.
The biggest issue you’ll face is finding a way about the ISP
blacklist. As we mentioned above, the blacklist is thorough and
updated regularly. Players have reported that the block does not
yet apply to poker software. If you already have the PokerStars
software, for example, you can still access the games and play
for real money.
Players have also reported that they don’t have any trouble
making deposits or getting paid. This is good news, but we
wouldn’t count on it holding for too long. The Russian
government seems determined to enforce its prohibition of online
A 2012 Russian Supreme Court ruling shows just how serious
the country is about eradicating gambling. In a case that found
it illegal to even provide information about gambling, the court
commented that “no trace of gambling should remain on the web.”
We urge all Russian gamblers to keep an eye on the news.
There appear to be few risks in simply gambling online right
now, but that could change. Russia has shown us time and again
that it very much wants to completely eliminate online gambling.
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