Is online gambling (online casinos/sports betting) allowed in Russia? (Politics, Regulations etc...)
The betting landscape is often complicated, given that the rules differ based on the country. In some regions, different rules apply to different parts of the country, making the gambling sector even murkier. In Russia, understanding the betting market is quite simple, as the rules are clear on this. The only downside is that the regulations tend to limit the games available to bettors. Let’s have a look:
What rules are applicable?
Taking part in online gaming activities in Russia by Russian citizens is illegal. That is all you need to know as to participating in such games. You can only do so while knowing the full risk of doing this. Additionally, offline betting is illegal in most parts of the country. The government has designated four regions in which offline betting can take place. Gambling in any other region puts you at risk of facing the long arm of the law.
As is the case with other countries, avid bettors have found a way around these rules, and still participate in online gambling, despite its illegality. This gambling is possible thanks to offshore operators who continue to open their doors to the Russian market.
Why is it that some countries are open to online gambling, yet Russia seems to have a hard stance on this sector? It dates back to the Soviet Union days.
From as early as the 1920s through to the 1980s, the Soviet Union banned any form of gambling. Things started changing in the late 1980s when the authorities allowed the use of some slot machines. In 1989, the authorities legalized gambling in the Soviet Union. It was not much later on that gambling became legal in the rest of the territory. Things were good for a while, and Russians engaged in a myriad of games without fear of being on the wrong side of the law. But things changed in 2006 when the government decided to take more control of the situation. There was consensus among the authorities that the citizens had taken to betting with much zeal.Their love for placing wagers had fast grown and had caused some concerns among the authorities. The government thus introduced a law that outlawed all online gambling activities, hoping to reduce the rate at which people were engaging in such activities.
Three years later, the government decided that banning online gaming was not enough, and it needed to take another step. Thus, it introduced restrictions on offline betting, limiting the number of operators by establishing some rules. Any establishment that could not abide by the rules could not get a license to continue its operations. Further restrictions also came into play, limiting the number of gaming activities that operators could offer. Only four regions could offer gaming services. These were Kaliningrad Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, Altai Krai, and Primorsky Krai, which could offer casino gambling and sports betting. Operators outside of these regions thus had to cut their losses and think of other means of generating revenue.
Russians adapted to the new rules, albeit disgruntled by the changes. The government was not done with the changes, and in 2012, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that there was a need for more restrictions. The internet providers operating in the country now had another task to undertake. They now had to track down illegal betting activities taking place in the country and list any sites that were providing such services. This change was not well-received by internet providers, who felt that this was against their beliefs and policies. They tried to push back, but the government was unwavering. If anything, it was clear that the internet providers would lose their licenses if they did not adhere to the new rules. And thus, the change took effect.
If you look at the changes that have taken place over the years, with particular emphasis on the laws, you would think that no illegal gambling takes place. But that is hardly the case. The heavy restrictions placed on online gambling have not deterred Russians from engaging in these activities. With offshore operators continuously marketing and providing their services to this country, more people keep joining online gaming sites. The case is so because the government has worked harder in shutting down operators than in keeping bettors away from such sites. As such, bettors can easily find their way around the regulations.