Russian Telecom Operator Blocks Thousands of Online Gaming Sites

At one point in its history, gambling was popular in Russia. In fact, the Russian royal family enjoyed gambling for centuries. However, times have changed.

During the era of communism, the Russian government forbade its citizens to gamble. The fall of the Soviet Union led to a rush of illegal gaming. There were also calls to legalize as much gaming in the country as possible. The Russian government appears to be choosing to take a hard line on gambling instead.

At the request of the Russian government, a Russian telecom operator has blocked thousands of online gaming sites. Some of the sites were gaming sites that took in and paid out money. Other gaming sites allowed Russians to gamble for prizes instead of money.

The Initial Crackdown

Crackdown against Internet sitesThe Russian government began the crackdown against Internet sites two years ago. First, it began to try and regulate the Internet itself. It took down any sites that were critical of the government or President Vladimir Putin. In addition, the government sought to block sites that it believed were adding to the moral degradation of Russian citizens. This included music and books that the government perceived as detrimental to its citizens.

The Russian government has a history of closing down sites it does not agree with. This includes messaging applications, file sharing sites, and news sites critical of the Russian government’s actions. In the past, the government has tried to block millions of sites at a time. For example, it shut down Telegram, a messaging application. The creator of this application does not live in the country. He told the Russian government he would not cooperate or give decryption technology to decode messages on the app. The government also knocked out the largest social media app (Vkontakte) and the largest search engine (Yandex) .

Gaming Implications

It is not only search engines and messaging applications that have a problem with the Russian government. Gamers are also having issues with the government. The Kremlin wants to block gamers from accessing and gambling on sites that it has not authorized. The largest telecom agency, Roskomnadzor, stated it will comply with government’s requests to filter out sites that do not have authorization. The telecom giant has blocked more than two dozen gaming sites. Some are of Russian origin and others are international operators.

Examples of Blocked Sites

Many well-known sites for gambling are now blocked for Russian customers. They include sites from Europe, Australia, and the United Kingdom. They are 888Poker, Betway,, JackpotCity, Ladbrokes, Marathon Bet, Pinnacle Sports, Titan Poker, PokerStars, William Hill, SportingBet, and Unibet. These sites represent some of the best-known and most profitable sites for poker and casino gaming in the world.

In addition, the government also took down several Russian sports-books, including Favbet, Fonbet, Liga Stavok, TrioBet, Vulkan-Bet, and 1xbet. Interestingly, many of these sites have disabled their main site that catered to Russian citizens. Instead, they created different domains in order to keep their businesses going.

The Russian government has publicly stated it wants to receive revenue from the online poker market and sports betting market. However, it must do further research before it commits to allowing online gaming in the country. Some critics of the government have charged the Russian government has blocked all of the online gaming and sports-book websites. Speculation is the government did so in order to put friends of the government in charge of online gaming. If this is true, their quality will not be as good as ones that have been running for years.

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Thomas McCoy was born in Bethesda, Maryland and studied finance at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington D.C. before heading to New York and a job as a forex trader on Wall Street. Successful enough to launch his own, online forex trading platform, Thomas has long had a keen interest in the places where the worlds of finance and technology meet. As a prolific blogger, Thomas considers himself an expert on cryptocurrencies, casino asset restructuring, and emerging technologies set to change the way people do business.