Online gambling is illegal throughout Russia but that has not deterred online gambling companies from offering their services throughout the country. The underground market has grown considerably over the past few years as both live games and online games take place throughout the country as the authorities have so far not come down strong on these illegal gambling providers.
When the authorities do crackdown on the underground gambling industry, it is usually the online gambling providers or the establishments that host live games that get into legal trouble. However all that could change in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, as lawmakers want authorities to take more action against the underground gambling industry.
Lawmakers in Tatarstan are looking to introduce a new bill that will not only prosecute illegal gambling providers but also go after the players who participate in illegal gambling. Tatarstan has over 3.8 million residents and is seeking to introduce a gambling bill that will fine players between $152 to $304 and underage gamblers between $76 to $152. The law is also seeking to hold parents and guardians of underage gamblers responsible for the actions of their children.
The bill also targets landlords who rent out their properties for illegal live games and seeks to impose a heavy fine of around $2,300 in an attempt to discourage them from renting out their properties to these illegal gambling providers.
Russia maintains a lengthy blacklist of illegal online gambling websites but these online providers often setup mirror sites to bypass these restrictions. Kirill Grinchenko, the leader of the pro-Kremlin youth organization Media Guard says his organization is committed to putting a stop to these illegal gambling websites.
In a statement, Grinchenko said “We are actively fighting online casinos and other websites that violate Russian laws. About 30 percent of all complaints we receive from our citizens are about such websites and access to these sites is usually blocked straight away. When owners launch mirror sites we take care of them as well.”
While the gambling watchdog in Russia has the freedom of not waiting for a court order to add illegal gambling websites to its blacklist, these underground providers have used Tor and VPN services to continue to operate even after being blacklisted. Russian lawmakers have also discussed the possibility of banning Tor and VPN services in an effort to prevent illegal gambling.