Russia has had a very mixed past when it comes to gambling. Throughout the old Soviet era, gambling was illegal. When the Soviet Union collapsed, gambling was legalised. However, the laws have gradually begun to revert back. Today, gambling in land-based casinos in only legal in four regions, and online gambling is mostly prohibited with extensive blacklisting of offshore sites taking place. Understandably, Russian players who don’t know the current state of affairs may need a little help unravelling the current gambling laws in the country before they bet online.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Russia?
It is often said that online gambling is entirely illegal in Russia. That is not entirely true. Strictly speaking, online bingo and lottery games are considered legal, provided they are licensed from within the country. Sports betting is also deemed legal, again provided the operator has received a license. Online casino, poker and cryptocurrency betting sites are, however, illegal. Moreover, unless you happen to reside in Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, Altay or Primorie, gambling at land-based venues such as brick-and-mortar casinos is also prohibited.
The Federal Sports Agency (FSA) has the power to issue gambling licenses to sportsbooks, on the basis that they do not offer online casino games. They took over the role from regional governments in 2002. A second law passed in 2006 stated that all forms of online casino gaming would be made illegal. That is relatively the way things remain today, although a few changes “may” (and we use that term loosely) be on the horizon.
Russian Online Casinos
Fully licensed Russian online casinos simply don’t exist. Any operator which have a presence in Russia must apply for a sports betting license, and even then they are forbidden from offering casino games to players at their website.
Of course, even though there are not currently any Russian-licensed online casinos, there are plenty of top casino sites out there which do cater to Russian players. Therefore, many players refer to these international sites which specialise in providing games to those in the country as Russian online casinos.
Offshore Casino Sites for Russian Players
If we were to consider a Russian online casino as any offshore site which offers gambling games to Russians, there are plenty in existence. These sites will naturally be licensed from outside the nation, but may still be able to provide gameplay in Russian, with appropriate support options and the Russian rouble as a currency choice. It is worth noting, though, that many of these sites are licensed out of less renowned jurisdictions, so their professionalism or dedication to fair play gaming may be called into question. A list of quality foreign sites offering games to Russian players which are safe and secure to play at can be found further down this page.
Before players consider signing up at an international casino, though, they should know that Russia does frown on this. Although Russians are largely unpunished for playing at offshore casinos, there have been cases where players who have been caught gambling (online or offline) have been fined. The fine is so small, though, that few Russian players seem to care. The country’s authorities are far more interested in fining operators, and the penalties can sometimes be excessive. Understandably, this has put off many providers from catering to players in the country.
Russia does tend to demand that their ISPs (internet service providers) blacklist and block access to foreign casinos, and they are getting exceedingly good at it. One way to avoid a potential fine is to use a VPN (virtual private network). However, as the status of VPNs in Russia is still up in the air, using one may be a punishable offence in its own right.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Who can say? There was talk of the Russian Government deciding to regulate online casino gaming, by handing out licenses to domestic and international gambling enterprises. This would be very appealing for all operators. The FSA (Federal Sports Agency) issued its first sportsbook license in 2016, and this was seen as the first steps of this happening. However, at the same time, there are laws in the works which would make it illegal for a Russian bank to process a transaction to an online casino or other outlawed gambling domain. These two moves seem somewhat contradictory and imply that Russia hasn’t really made up its mind about online gambling yet.
New draft laws are always coming and going. It would seem logical that they might open up their online gambling industry to the wider world via Russian-issued licenses, of course. However, as ever, nothing is as it seems in Russia, so again, who can say for sure?
Top Russian Casino Sites
Although most of the big brand have shied away from catering to players in the country, there are still plenty of safe international casinos which accept Russian players. Given that, you really don’t have to choose to play at far-flung sites which may not be as secure as they seem.
Some of the more reputable Russian online casinos (offshore sites) you may wish to have a look at include Luck Paradise Casino, Cleopatra, Mr Super Play Casino, Wild Wins, GemSlots, PlayClub and others on this page. All are guaranteed to offer fair and licensed gaming for all Russian players.