Russian Government Blocks Gambling Domains
The Russian government has begun blocking a number of gambling domains in what could be the beginning of legal igaming in the former Soviet Union; or a brazen display of power by Roskomnadzor, the state internet authority.
According to a variety of published reports, the blocking efforts probably began some time in September and have been picking up steam ever since.
Among the targeted sites are a number of well-regarded international operators including: 888 Poker, Betway, Bwin.party, JackpotCity, Ladbrokes, Marathon Bet, Pinnacle Sports, Titan Poker and Unibet. Of course a number of Russian operators (Favbet, Fonbet, Liga Stavok, TrioBet, Vulkan-Bet and 1xbet) made that list, too.
So what’s behind the big domain block? No one knows for certain and Russian authorities, in typical authoritarian style, aren’t exactly forthcoming with details.
Russian authorities have been chattering about the possibility of legalizing online gambling (which is currently illegal in all forms in Russia) for quite some time and they’ve got plenty of incentive for moving forward on that initiative.
By the same token, there are no measures to legalize online gambling currently under official consideration by the Russian Government. But that doesn’t mean there’s no incentive to enact that legislation at any moment.
Thanks to a combination of falling oil prices and international sanctions resulting from their annexation of Crimea, the Russian economy has been in a free fall the past few years. A new stream of tax revenue, like legalized internet gambling, could go a long ways towards healing that gaping economic wound.
Of course there’s also the very real chance that this is simply another example of an authoritarian government flexing its muscles by preventing the free flow of information via the internet.