- Russian media watchdog reports over 38,700 online gambling complaints
- Figure represents a 235% increase in the complaints in online casinos and betting
- Although strictly regulated, Russia has a large online wagering community
Russian media and telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, has revealed that the level of online casino-related complaints in the country has risen by a hefty 235% on the previous year.
Roskomnadzor’s job is to police gambling-related violators prior to blacklisting them, a process which the watchdog undertook nearly 16,000 times in 2016.
The rise, based on the figures for the first half of the year, has shown that the total number of incidents received over those six months is now above 38,700, with Roskomnadzor adding more than 1,400 gambling domains to their blacklist in one single week alone. To put that rise in context, last year the total number of blacklisted sites was 15,900.
Overall, the media watchdog received a total of 118,000 complaints regarding the illicit distribution of different types of information. These are believed to have included 21,000 indecent images, 39,000 incidents of drug distribution and use, as well as 19,000 cases of sites promoting suicide.
Largely focused on policing online gambling
Roskomnadzor, or The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media to give it its full name, was established in 2008 and given the remit to monitor the distribution of information in accordance with Russian law.
More recently however, it has been largely focused on online casinos and betting, which is extremely tightly regulated in the country, despite popularity continuing to rise.
Even Google.ru was put on a temporary lockdown due to redirecting its users to the Russian online bookmaker Fonbet, while local eSports sites, skingames.co, csgo.tm and csgofast.com, have also been added to the blacklist.
Sportsbetting online in the country is allowed but local operators must apply for licenses, a proportion of which have been granted, with international operator applications, in the main, rejected.
One exception to this is the Isle of Man’s GVC Holdings, whose successful bid to launch their bwin betting brand, note, not its partypoker and casino verticles, on Russian networks was approved earlier this year.
As things stand, Russian online bettors looking to access online casino and poker sites use forbidden, location defying virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around the law, which has signifcantly helped to contribute to the rise.
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