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News

Russian Media Watchdog Targets Sports Portals and High Traffic Affiliates

Roskomnadzor, known to be the Russian media watchdog, has been urged by the local government to strengthen and widen its regulations regarding Russian gambling customers’ access to unlicensed sports betting and gaming websites providing their options within the country.

Roskomnadzor, or the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies, and Mass Communications, has most recently extended the scope of its IP-restrictions and those concerning the monitoring of gambling-related websites. Sports betting portals and high traffic affiliates are now included in the regulator’s rapidly growing blacklist.

Early in 2016, the Russian government said that it would look to block all unlicensed online gambling operators from offering their products and services to local players. Major European sports betting operators, including 888 Holdings, Betway, and Unibet, have already seen their access to Russian IPs restricted.

Roskomnadzor started blocking unauthorized online gambling websites in October 2015. Since then, the agency has banned around 6,000 such websites, both local and international. According to local media, 118 online casinos and sportsbooks were deprived of access to Russian players in the period between June 8-21. What is more, it seems that the Russian media watchdog has blocked more than 50 Google Play and iTunes online gambling apps.

Following the latest news about the agency’s campaign against unlicensed online gambling providers, it was also suggested that it would not spare bigger local sports portals, including express.ru and Championat, in case it suspects that illegal gaming and sports betting websites are promoted on these.

Maxim Krasnov, a representative for the country’s Federal Tax Service, has told local media that all 6,000 gambling websites to have been blocked since October 2015 were targeted by regulators due to the fact that they contained content that was in breach of the laws regarding the prohibition of unlicensed online gambling operations.

Under the current Russian laws, iGaming operations can only be provided to local customers only if these are fully compliant with money transaction and TSUPIS payment codes, aimed at protecting residents of the country from falling victims to criminal activities.

Big online gambling names such as William Hill, PokerStars, and Sportingbet were among the first to fall under Roskomnadzor’s axe. These particular operators faced blockage in 2014.