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Russian Online Gaming

An anti-gambling law was passed in Russia in 2006 that restricts gambling over the Internet. It prohibits domestic operators from offering online gaming, but does nothing to outlaw payments for gaming services made to foreign operators. Residents of Russia wishing to gamble online must play at offshore-owned and offshore-operated websites.

Historically, Russia has never offered major online gambling opportunities. Limited mobile gaming with online support was offered through a few companies in 2004, but these options were closed in the 2006 legislation.

In late 2010, a bill was introduced proposing to fine gamblers (the individual persons) between 500 and 2,000 rubles for gambling activities outside the official gambling zones using mobile networks and the Internet. The bill stipulates that online casinos and poker rooms will remain illegal in Russia. The prior law targeted the organizers of gambling, not the participants.

In late 2012, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that no trace of online gambling should be accessible. Internet service providers face the loss of their license for providing any form of information relating to online betting. This ruling overturns a previous ruling by a court in Pskov ruling that Internet service provider Rostelecom did not have to block access to online gambling sites. The Supreme Court's decision is based on the idea that providing access to restricted information is equal to disseminating it and, therefore, even sites only containing information regarding online gambling (with no actual gambling provided) must be blocked.

In March 2014, Russia released a blacklist of more than 50 online gaming sites, banning them from the country. In July 2014, the Russian Finance Ministry was reported to be considering regulating online poker in the country, but the push for regulation fizzled. The government then passed Bill 478806-6, which effectively criminalizes online poker.

In January 2015, the Russian government announced that all online gambling operators taking payments from Russian players must sign up with a special self-regulatory organization (SRO), and that those payments must funnel through the SRO. The goal is for Russian authorities to be able to monitor all transactions to online gambling sites, allowing the government to see which operators are offering services under a license and to identify and shut down those operating without a license.

In January 2016, Russia appeared to be softening its stance online poker, as the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation considered declaring poker a game of skill and allowing it to be licensed and regulated. In February 2016, the Ministry of Finance suggested it was considering a 10% tax on online sports betting revenue.

In February 2017, the Russian Ministry of Finance proposed legislation to create a blacklist of online payment processors that process gambling related transactions.
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