Industry Reports

Russia Blocks VPNs to Efficiently Restrict Foreign iGaming Operators

The current President of Russia Vladimir Putin introduced a package of new regulations, prohibiting the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) in order to effectively restrict the access of the web users to certain blacklisted websites, offering “unlawful content”.

The new restrictions aim to efficiently block the access of the Russians to websites with unlawful content. The new regulations are said to come into effect on 1st November this year. The bill passed in the Russia’s Parliament last week, when the majority voted in favor of the bill. Putin signed the bill, giving it a green light to enter the country’s legal framework.

Another piece of legislation also met the approval of the Russian officials. It aims to restrict the online messaging services by anonymous users. The bill will come into force at the very beginning of the next year. These measures will target only the websites, which are added to the country’s blacklist. A security expert explained that under the new regulations, it would be easier for the country to catch and cope with the wrongdoers. Officials explained that they will not tolerate any legal abuse, slapping harsh sanctions on the criminals.

These measures are part of the country’s strategy to push Russian punters to use only gambling websites, authorized by the Russian government. In that way, the players will enjoy a safe gaming environment, without fearing any deceitful operators. Furthermore, the country will manage to stop the cash leakage to foreign gambling operators and boost its economy.

This vexed some of the operators such as Everest, which decided to leave the Russian market. Others like Betfair and Unibet stopped accepting new players from Russia, but kept the already existing ones. The online gambling sites, which are licensed to operate by the Russian government are required to use a particular payment method, so that all the money transfers should be processed through it.

In an exclusive interview with BBC, Dr Joss Wright at the Oxford Internet Institute explained that by use of hiding tools such as VPN, the users still could access any unlawful websites, as they can mask their IP addresses. Thus, the new rules are expected to efficiently stop the illicit surfing habits of the Russian nationals, drawing punters’ attention back to the Russian gambling websites.

Russia is not the only country, which introduced such measures. Its predecessors China and the UK already adopted a similar system to watchdog the online environment and keep track on the people’s surfing habits. Following the same established pattern, Russia is already on its way to finally find a working solution and restrict foreign online gaming operators from targeting Russian punters.