Simon’s Guide to Casinos and Gambling in Russia

There is a mobile optimized version of this page, view AMP Version.

A picture of the map of Russia overlain with the Russian flag. An illustration to my guide about Russian casinos and gambling in Russia.

Simon’s Guide to Gambling in Russia

Gambling in Russia has been a huge problem for the government since the beginning of the 21th century. All gambling was outlawed in the country during the soviet era, between 1928 and 1987. The first legal Russian casino was introduced in 1989. In the years following the collapse of the soviet union, gambling facilities started to pop up all through the country. By 1994, there were approximately 496 registered gambling companies in Russia. However, most of the venues operating in the country by this time were notoriously avoiding taxes. In response to this situation, a law was crafted in 1998 to clear up matters of taxation and licensing. As a result of these measures, tax revenues from the gambling industry increased. But more importantly, the new licensing system brought about a dramatic upturn in the number of casinos and gambling facilities in the country.

In 2002, the Federal Sports Agency (FSA) was granted the right to issue gambling licenses, while regional governments were stripped of this function. The FSA introduced an even more liberal licensing policy. It gave away licenses for the Russian Ruble equivalent of approximately $100. Between 2002 and 2005 the number of casinos doubled in Moscow alone, and an astonishing 60,000 slot machines were operating in the city (that means, roughly 1 slot machine/170 residents).

No wonder that this wildfire growth resulted in a major political and media backlash. In 2006, the government introduced a radical countermeasure. Federal law N 244-FZ was passed on December 29, 2006, prohibiting gambling venues with slot machines and table games everywhere in Russia except for four special gambling zones*. The law came into effect fully in 2009. Authorities basically closed down all casino gambling operations outside the four gambling zones overnight. This leads us to the current situation, where casino gambling in Russia is only allowed in these four regions, namely:

  • “Yantarnaya” (Kaliningrad region)
  • “Azov-city” (Krasnodar territory)
  • “Siberian Coin” (Altay)
  • “Primorie” (Primorie region)**
A picture of a map displaying the four zones with legal gambling in Russia. Only in these four zones are there legal Russian casinos.

Gambling zones in Russia, according to the 2006 legislation.

The prohibition also extends to online gambling in Russia. In 2006, all online gambling was outlawed in the country along with brick and mortar gambling facilities outside the aforementioned zones. In 2015 February, Russia’s media authority Roskomnadzor announced that it would block domains of blacklisted online gambling websites. The list includes Russian and international operators as well. The agency actually started to block such domains in late September, and by the end of October dozens of gambling sites were made unavailable, including global operators, such as 888 Poker, Betway, Bwin.party, JackpotCity, Ladbrokes, Marathon Bet, Pinnacle Sports, Titan Poker and Unibet, and Russians, like Favbet, Fonbet, Liga Stavok, TrioBet, Vulkan-Bet and 1xbet***.

Industry experts contemplate, that these measures are taken in preparation for the establishment of legal online gambling in Russia (which is most likely true, considering that in 2016 the first ever Russian online sports betting license was issued to a private business). A draft law is being considered recently by Russian legislators, which aims to prohibit financial service providers from processing transactions related to unlicensed online gambling (much like the UIGEA in the US).

Russian laws also impose a small fine on players that participate in gambling activities conducted by unlicensed operators, both online and offline. However, currently there is little to no risk involved in playing on foreign online platforms from Russian, as authorities aim their efforts at gambling providers and organizers, not players.

*Source: Prohibitions and Policy in the Global Gaming Industry: A Genealogy and Media Content Analysis of Gaming Restrictions in Contemporary Russia

**Source: Eastern European Gaming Summit – Russian and Kazakh gambling markets 

***Source: Russia Blocks Dozens Of International And Domestic Online Gambling Domains (Calvinayre.com)

 

 

If you like the article, give it a +1!

 

Summary:

 

Casino gambling in Russia

 

Online casino gambling – Russia: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Brick and mortar casinos in Russia are only legal in the four aforementioned, special gambling zones. However, as one might expect, after the legislation was enacted in 2009, underground casinos started to proliferate in the country. In 2013, a reported 662 of such venues were shut down by the authorities.

All the four locations with legal casino gambling in Russia attract high profile, international investors, such as casino tycoon Lawrence Ho. Plans for major casino resort complexes are already approved for most these locations.

There are no legally operating online casinos in Russia. Many of the major foreign operators’ domains are on the media authority, Roskomnadzor’s blacklist and are banned by ISPs all through the country. The legislation makes it somewhat difficult for players to access these sites and theoretically, gaming online is punishable by a minor fine. However, the chances of an individual player being caught are minuscule – authorities aim their efforts at operators.

A surprising number of online casinos accept players from Russia, despite the fact that online gambling is actually illegal. The following offshore online casinos still accept players from Russia:

A banner advertisement (728x90 pixel) for BGO - Beat The Boss online casino. BGO is one of the many casino, which accept players from Russia. The animated banner reads: bgo, 200 free spins and 200% bonus, BEAT the BOSS, join now.

BGO casino – accepting players from Russia

This is a picture of 32 Red's animated GIF banner. 32 Red online casino accepts players from Russia. The animated GIF reads: 32 Red online casino, sign up now, $10 free no deposit required, Gambleaware.co.uk.

32 Red casino – accepting players from Russia

This is an animated GIF banner ad of Betsson casino. Betsson casino accepts players from Russia. On the banner you can read the following: will you be the next winner?, 100% up to £100, claim your welcome bonus.

Betsson online casino – accepting players from Russia

This is an animated GIF banner ad of Betsafe casino. Betsafe casino accept players from Russia. The text on the banner ad reads: Betsafe, 50% deposit bonus up to €25, plus 50 free spins on Gonzo's Quest.

Betsafe online casino – accepting players from Russia

This is an animated GIF banner of Casino Euro. Casino Euro is one of the many online casinos, which accept players from Russia.

Casino Euro – accepting players from Russia

This is an animated GIF banner ad of the online casino Black Lotus. Black Lotus casino accepts players from Russia. The animated banner reads: elemental 7, play now, Bonus code: Earth, 10 free spins.

Black lotus casino – accepting players from Russia

This is the animated GIF banner ad of Lotus Asia online casino. Lotus Asia online casino accepts players from Russia. The animated banner reads: get $1000 free, download, instant play.

Lotus Asia casino – accepting players from Russia

This the banner ad of Gt Bets online casino. The online casino accepts players from Russia.

GT Bets accepts players from Russia – accepting Bitcoins as well

 

Bingo in Russia

 

Online bingo – Russia: legal, licensed

 

Certain bingo games are reportedly exempt from the 2006 ban, and some country-wide lottery type bingo games continue to operate to date. Amongst the most popular of such games are the bingo games offered by Bingo Boom, a major Russian lottery company and Trade House Stoloto, the state lottery operator. These bingo games are accessible online also.

However, foreign online bingo operators cannot offer their services to Russians legally, as of now. Moreover, many such sites are blocked by ISPs in the country. Russian laws impose a small fine on players who gamble on such sites. However, chances of an individual player being caught gambling are almost non-existent – authorities are concerned mainly with operators.

Despite the ban the following online bingo websites still accept players from Russia:

This is an animated GIF banner ad of BGO Bingo. This online bingo ad features Paris Hilton. BGO Bingo online bingo website accepts players from Russia.The animated banner reads: spend £10, play with £50, BGO Bingo.

BGO bingo – accepting players from Russia

This is the animated banner ad of Betsson Bingo. This GIF online bingo banner is 728x90 pixel wide. Betsson bingo is one of the online bingo websites, that accepts players from Russia. The animated GIF reads: welcome bonus package up to R$1200, receive bonuses on your 4 deposits.

Betsson Bingo – accepting registrations from Russia

This is the animated banner ad of 32 Red Bingo. This GIF bingo banner is 728x90 pixels wide. 32 Red bingo is a an online bingo website, which accepts players from Russia. The animated GIF reads: Get £10 To try the all ne 32 Red Bingo, We've got Penny, Bogof and free bingo, guaranteed prites and loads more, plus all the great slots and jackpots we all love, All that's missing is you.

32 Red Bingo – accepting registrations from Russia

 

Poker – Russia

 

Online poker – Russia: illegal, players are not prosecuted

Land based poker in Russia is illegal outside of the four gambling zones. However, several advocates and experts are pushing for the government to exempt poker from the ban. They argue, that poker is game of skill, not a game of chance, and therefore it should not be treated like other casino games.

Online poker too, is currently outlawed in Russia. Most major poker operators are blocked by Russian ISPs. Players, if caught, face a small fine. However, the law is reportedly not enforced on the level of individual players. Authorities are after gambling operators.

The following online poker websites still accept players from Russia:

This is a banner ad of Betsson online Poker website. This is a 728x90 pixel banner. Betsson online poker is one of the many online poker rooms, which accept players from Russia. The animated banner reads: plus 30% rakeback, 100% up to €1000.

Betsson online Poker – accepting players from Russia

This is the animated GIF banner ad of Betsafe's online poker website. It is 728x90 pixel wide. Betsafe online poker is one of the many online poker websites, which accept players from Russia. The animated banner reads: betsafe welcome deal, 3 great reasons to join the fun, up to €1000 deposit bonus.

Betsafe online Poker – accepting players from Russia

This is the animated GIF banner ad of 32 Red's online poker website. It is 728x90 pixel wide. Betsafe online poker is one of the many online poker websites, which accept players from Russia. The animated banner reads: 32 Red 30% rakeback, $1000 welcome bonus, €2500 freerolls.

32 Red online Poker – accepting players from Russia

 

Sports betting in Russia

 

Online sports betting – Russia: legal, licensed

 

Sports betting companies are eligible for a licence in Russia. Under a federal licence, they can provide land based sports betting services to Russian residents anywhere in the country.

The only licensed online sports betting operators are the Russian lottery company, Trade House Stoloto and Liga Stavok . Even the sites of domestic sports books were taken down by the authorities earlier this year.

The following online sportsbooks accept registrations from Russia:

This is an animated GIF banner ad of Betsson sportsbook. Betsson online bookmaker accepts registrations from Russia. On the banner you can read: claim your welcome bonus, bonus 100% up to €25.

Betsson online sportsbook – accepting registrations from Russia

This is an animated GIF banner ad of Betsafe sportsbook. Betsafe online sportsbook accept registrations from Russia. The text on the banner ad reads. betsafe, 50% deposit bonus up to €25, 2nd tier bonus, open an account today.

Betsafe online bookmaker – accepting registrations from Russia

This is a banner of 32 Red Sports, the online sportsbook of 32 Red Casino. 32 Red online sportsbook accepts players from Russia. The animated GIF banner reads: £10 free bet, Place your first bet & get a £10 free bet plus 10 free games on one of our fantastic slots, + 10 free games, 32 Red Sport.

32 Red sport online sportsbook – accepting players from Russia

This the banner ad of Gt Bets online sportsbook. The sportsbook accept players from Russia.

GT Bets online bookmaker – accepts registrations from Russia, also accepts Bitcoin

 

Lottery in Russia

 

Online lottery – Russia: legal, state monopoly

 

Prior to 2014, many private lottery operations existed in Russia. However, from July 1, 2014 the government closed down all lottery schemes, apart form the state lottery conducted by the company Trade House Stoloto. They offer various types of lottery games and scratch cards. Many of these are also available online.

Foreign online lotteries are illegal in Russia. Many of such sites are also blocked by ISPs. It is illegal for Russian residents to participate in foreign online lottery draws. Technically, they can face fines, if caught. However, the chances of an individual player being prosecuted are almost none.

The following websites let people from Russia purchase lottery tickets online:

Coming soon!

 

Bitcoin gambling in Russia

 

Bitcoin gambling – Russia: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Russia is not a Bitcoin friendly country by any standards. In its efforts to restrict the use of the cryptocurrency in the country, in January 2015 the government introduced an ISP ban on all Bitcoin related websites. Even though the decision was overturned by an appellant court, the legal status of Bitcoin is not resolved.

In October this year, Alexey Moiseev the deputy Finance Minister of Russia stated that the country has made plans to penalise the conversion of crypto currencies into the Ruble by up to 4 years in prison*.

For now, Bitcoin casinos and other Bitcoin gambling websites are just as illegal as all other online gambling operations. Many of such site are, in fact blocked by Russian ISPs. Players face minor financial penalties if caught gambling online – in Bitcoins or other currencies. However, these laws would be very difficult to enforce on the level of an individual player and so far there have been no reports of players being prosecuted.

The following Bitcoin casino accepts players from Russia:

This a banner ad of GT Bets bitcoin casino. It accepts players from Russia.

GT Bets accepts players from Russia, and also accepts Bitcoin

*Source: Using bitcoins in Russia could lead to 4 years in jail

 

If you have questions or any feedback don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. Please let me know in the comments section if you think we might have gotten something wrong or if you have additional information, clarification about the legal status of online gambling in this country.

If you like the article, give it a +1!

This page is part of Simon’s List – Legal Status of Online Gambling – a definitive guide to the legal status of all forms of online gambling activities in every country around the world.

Last updated: 2016-06-19

Summary
Simon's Guide to Gambling and Online Gambling in Russia
Article Name
Simon's Guide to Gambling and Online Gambling in Russia
Description
An overview of Russian casino and gambling laws and the state of the online and offline gambling regulations in Russia.
Author
Simon's Online Marketing Kft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *