New law targets gambling organisers
Since 2009 gambling has been a risky business in most of Russia – banned in all regions of the country other than Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, Altay, Primorskiy Krai, and more recently two new areas in Sochi and the recently annexed Crimea.
Serious punitive measures taken against those who organise gambling have to date been confined to convictions where the revenues involved exceed 1.5 million roubles ($25,967), but that is about to change, as the authorities claim that enforcement raids usually are followed by illegal gambling outfits starting up again elsewhere.
Last week the State Duma (parliament) passed a bill specifically criminalising the activity of organising gambling outside of the regions set aside for the activity – including online and mobile action – and carrying heavy penalties; up to half a million roubles in fines and up to two years imprisonment or four years of home confinement
Where the offender is a legal entity the fines soar to a million roubles and there is provision for the seizure and confiscation of any illegal gambling equipment.
Observers have commented that the draconian bill 478806-6 does not differentiate between "organisers" and players, effectively making the act of playing on any online gambling website not licensed or located in the permissible regions a criminal offence with serious punitive consequences.
There is also disappointment at what appears to be a major step away by the Russian authorities from the possibility of regulated and legalised online poker in Russia due to its classification as a game primarily of skill rather than chance. Some years ago the game was recognised as a sport in Russia.
Having passed the Duma, the bill now needs only the approval of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation before implementation.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa