Russian watchdog extends gambling clampdown to social networks

Over 200 online groups on Russia’s major social network VKontakte has been blacklisted by the Russian media and communications watchdog for posting links to illegal gambling websites, local media reports.

Roskomnadzor said that the decision to blacklist these groups was part of the Federal Tax Service’s campaign to fight illegal gambling online.

The regulator expects that VKontakte will block these groups as “their administration is directly violating the law and continues to repeatedly distribute information about the activities of illegal websites”. In fact, these groups often share links to mirrors of the already blocked gaming websites and instructions on how to circumvent blocking.

In addition, Roskomnxdzor announced in its account on Facebook that this social networking site along with Twitter had deleted accounts of offshore bookmaking companies unlawfully operating online in Russia. The targeted companies include Fonbet, Parimatch, BetCity and Winlinebet, which have a significant share of the Russian bookmaking market.

Roskomnadzor also noted that mobile applications of the banned bookmakers were removed from Google Play and App Store.

The watchdog also blocked over 300 websites of online casinos and bookmakers in the period between August 8 -14, most of which are mirror website of the 1xBet bookmaker.

Meanwhile, last week the self-regulating organization Association of Bookmaking Shops announced its plans to launch its own online payment processor TSUPIS (which is currently in test mode) in cooperation with Qiwi Bank this autumn, thus allowing its members to accept e-bets in line with the Russian law. It will be the second such processor in Russia, with the first having been launched in February 2016.