Online and offline gambling in Russia is quite restricted. While the country has gone through phases of legalising land-based casinos, online sites weren’t initially regulated and then they became prohibited. Still, offshore online casinos accept Russian players and the government does not enforce penalties for gambling on the games offered.
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Gambling in Russia
In 2002 the right to grant gambling licenses was removed from regional governments and given to the Federal Sports Agency (FSA). The FSA licensed gambling operators liberally, and cheaply, and the number of casinos and games increased significantly. Between 2002 and 2005 there were over 60,000 slots in Moscow alone.
In 2006 the government cracked down on the proliferation of gambling operations and introduced federal law N 244-FZ. The legislation banned gambling venues with slots and table games all over the country except for four designated gambling zones. These zones included Yantarnaya, Azov-city, Siberian Coin, and Primorie. The law came into effect in 2009 and remains enforced at the time of writing.
Online gambling wasn’t regulated when it first emerged in Russia. But in 2006 all Internet gambling was banned. Russians continued to gamble at offshore sites – as players do in other unregulated markets. To combat this, Russian regulator Roskomnadzor announced it would list and block domains of unlicensed gambling websites in 2015.
Since there are so many, Russian players are still accepted at offshore online gambling sites. This has resulted in the government introducing a bill in 2017 to prohibit financial institutions from processing transactions related to illegal online gambling, similarly to the US.
While small fines are said to be the consequence for any player found gambling online illegally, no player has been prosecuted so far. Gambling operators are targetted more so than players.
At the time of writing, players can still gamble online at offshore sites, but we recommend doing so at secure sites since there’s no Russian regulatory body which can step in and provide assistance should an issue arise.
Verified RUB online casinos for Russians
Most of our recommended online casinos accept Russian players – you can select your location when signing up and enter your address. This will make confirming your identity – a security process required by verified online casinos – easier later on.
Rizk: This online casino is run by Captain Rizk who offers rewards in the form of Super Spins and free cash. There’s a range of NetEnt, Microgaming, BetSoft and other providers found here which means a huge gambling catalogue is on offer. Russians need to be careful here – the terms and conditions indicate if players in a restricted jurisdiction are found with an account it may be immediately closed. This is another reminder to read the T&Cs.
EuroPalace: Casual gamblers – those after scratch cards and bingo type games – should join the Palace. Powered by Microgaming, you will also find a range of slots, table games, progressives, video poker and more.
Russian online gambling payment options
As we mentioned above, Russia is considering blocking online gambling transactions via financial institutions so payment methods may become few and far between. Luckily, there are two online payment services available exclusively to Russian players which will likely help players find a way around any impending payment blocks:
While credit and debit cards are the most popular payment methods to fund online casino accounts with, they are also the easiest for payment processors to block. You may be able to use them, including Visa and MasterCard, for the time being but it might be smart to look elsewhere. Yandex and QIWI provide a solid alternative.
Other Web wallets are incredibly convenient and quite popular at online casinos. Russians do have access to PayPal but you may find it doesn’t allow gambling transactions, or won’t soon.
Neteller and Skrill, on the other hand, are two services which will allow you to fund your web casino account with. Simply connect a payment method, such as your personal bank account, and store funds to use. You can’t fund these wallets with the Russian ruble but since the RUB isn’t accepted at the verified sites above this isn’t too much of a hindrance. Simply fund your web wallet with EUR or the currency you plan to use at the online casino.
These payment methods may soon be restricted too, depending on legislation and how the financial companies react. So Bitcoin might be your best bet. While Russian lawmakers have attempted to make Bitcoin illegal, they haven’t been successful yet. So get yourself some Bitcoins and you can use these to make a deposit in your preferred currency.