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Why online gambling is absolutely forbidden in Russia

Russia is a beautiful country and there is so much to see and do. From the western palaces of Moscow and St. Petersburg to the beauty of Lake Baikal and the majesty of Vladivostok, there is so much to be seen in Russia.

However, one activity that will always come up short is gambling. Though Russians love their poker, it can be difficult to track down some good gambling games in this vast country. Here is why online gambling is absolutely forbidden in Russia, and where you can go to pick up some games instead.


A Brief History of Gambling in Russia

In 1928, the Soviets banned all forms of gambling throughout Russia. It had been a popular pastime before this, with famous Russian figures like Fyodor Dostoevsky being famed for his addiction to gambling alongside his contributions to literature throughout the years.

Gambling did not legally return to Russia until the influx of Western culture in the late 1980s. Slot machines became legal in 1988 and the gambling ban was then fully lifted in 1989. However, there were little to no regulations then backing this up.

More and more land-based casinos opened. In Moscow, it was reported that there were 50 casinos for players to choose from. Compare this to London. They are both capital cities with vaguely similar populations. However, London has a little over 20 casinos. With Muscovites having more options for gambling, things began to get out of hand.

To help control this, the government began to introduce regulations. The first came in 2006. This prohibited all forms of online gambling. The second major change was in 2009, when Vladimir Putin restricted gambling to just four zones in the country. If you want to gamble legally in a Russian casino, you will have to head to one of these zones. Finally, in 2012, the Russian Supreme Court passed a law that would prohibit online gambling fully.

What Did the 2012 Ruling Do?

This landmark decision stated that internet service providers had to block any sites that offered gambling. This would have made it impossible for Russian citizens to access these sites. This was not the first time that something like this had been tried. Before, internet service providers had protested when these demands were made. They had even taken the matter to court and had won.

However, the ruling of the Supreme Court made it clear that this was not going to be tolerated. The internet providers faced the risk of losing their licenses completely if they did not comply with the new laws. Therefore, they decided to block these sites.

Nevertheless, many sites continued to accept Russian players. As a result, the Russian government released a list that showed every site that was considered to be illegal, yet still offered its services. This was the trigger many sites needed to pull the plug on Russia and it is still difficult for Russian players to find somewhere to gamble online. Though not every site is blocked by the service providers, it can be incredibly difficult to find a safe one that is not.

What About Legal Play?

As mentioned, gambling is not completely prohibited in Russia. You can head to one of four zones in Russia to try your hand at gambling: Kaliningrad Oblast, Altai Krai, Krasnodar Krai, and Primorsky Krai.

Kaliningrad Oblast

Kaliningrad Oblast is one of the most Western regions in Russia. It is a Baltic seaport for Russia and is the only one to not freeze over in winter. The casino here is the Sobranie. It opened in 2017 and offers slots, table games like poker, and some pari-mutual betting opportunities. It is also one of the largest casinos in Europe with an impressive floor area of 193,750 square feet.

Altai Krai

Altai Krai is in the south of Siberia. There are several casino resorts throughout this region. The Altai Palace is one the main casinos in this area, right in the middle of what is known as the Siberian Coin gambling zone. It is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of other metropolitan areas of Russia.

Krasnodar Krai

Located in the North Caucasus region and next to the Black Sea, Krasnodar Krai is home to the city of Sochi. This is a famed resort city where you can find everything you could ever want. From a trip to the beach, to a night in a glitzy casino, they are able to offer it all. Sochi is one of the best places to visit in Russia to get a glimpse of how Russians spend their holidays.

Primorsky Krai

Far in the East lies Primorsky Krai. This distant location is home to Vladivostok amongst many other cities and it acts as the banking and financing center for the Far East of Russia. The Primorye Gambling Zone is a key area here. Russians are hoping to attract not just home players but rich tourists from Asian countries who fancy a change of scenery from Macau. The Primorsky Entertainment Resort City will be opening later in 2020 and this will help to bring a lot more interest to the area.

Will Online Gambling Ever Launch in Russia

With the popularity of USA online casino growing and safe and regulated online gambling increasing across the world, it would seem that there might be a glimmer of hope that Russia might also introduce its own controlled online gambling.

However, it would seem that they want to push the revenue through their own casino resorts first. A lot of money is being invested into these areas. With Sochi being one of the most popular holiday destinations in Russia and Primorsky Krai attracting Asian tourists and other travelers, it is likely that online gambling will remain heavily prohibited in Russia for now.

If you will be travelling or living here, it is best that you avoid any sort of online gambling and only partake in games if you are in one of the four legal zones.

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