Russia cheers Anti-Online Gambling campaign, except Sports Betting

Roskomnadzor Telecom Regulator of RussiaBig things are happening in the online gambling realm throughout Russia. The country just chose to regulate interactive sports betting this year, at the same time issuing what they’re calling a very successful crackdown against all other forms of online gambling.

Russia’s telecom regulatory authority, Roskomnadzor, published a throng of figures last week relating to the nation’s crackdown against illegal internet operations. The report indicated about 87,000 websites had been identified as violating the nation’s laws of telecommunication services – many for offering unauthorized gambling services to Russian citizens – in 2016 alone.

That figure represents a 3x increase from the number of illegal websites identified by the regulator in 2015.

The regulator said that about 52,000 of the websites found to be in violation of telecom laws were forcibly removed from the internet by Roskomnadzor. More than 34,000 others were taken offline voluntary by their respective network operators, upon the regulator’s request.

Among them all, the Russian Federal Tax Service (FTS) identified just under 16,000 websites proffering illegal online gambling services. While online sports betting is legal for operators specifically authorized by the Russian government, all other forms of internet wagering are strictly prohibited, including online casinos, poker, bingo, etc.

The FTS subsequently enforced a block against 79% of those unauthorized sites; 12,561 of them to be exact.

Russians Become More Vigilant in 2016

According to Roskomnadzor, the Russian public reported about 127,000 incidents of illicit materials on the internet via it’s official reporting line. That’s a 30% increase from the fink reports received in 2015. Following investigations into each claim, about 40,000 of those turned out to be unfounded.

Russia’s reporting service also appears to have become more popular as the year went on. In the first quarter of 2016, results revealed the regulator had received 2,769 claims relating to illegal online gambling websites. That figure rose to over 7,000 in Q2.

Prohibited gambling sites received the third highest number of claims of all illicit services reported. Drug trafficking was the most common, followed by reports of child pornography.

Government Vows to Strengthen Crackdown

The Russian government is looking to give Roskomnadzor even more power to crackdown against illicit internet services. It’s no secret that the majority of illegal operators will launch a mirror site within hours of another website being blocked.

Last month, legislators in Duma suggested Roskomnadzor be given authority to automate its blocking services to enable an “auto-lock” against domains that are connected to previously blocked websites.

Authorized Sports Betting Grows Quickly

In the meantime, Russia’s decision to authorize online sports betting is already creating a booming industry. Since the country legalized the activity this year, Russia has already approved half a dozen licenses for digital bookmakers.

The very first operating license was issued in February 2016 to Liga Stovak, a sports betting operator that actually had its website blocked in October of 2015. The latest sports betting site approved in Russia, Fonbet, went live on December 3, 2016.

To ensure a safe, secure and uniform payments experience for all Russian punters, and to thoroughly monitor the monetary activity (and subsequent taxation), the government requires all licensed operators to facilitate financial transfers through a centralized hub known as TSUPIS.

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