Russia introduces Bill to Clamp down on Online Poker

Published on: December 14, 2010 

Russia closed down its land based casinos on 1st July 2009 and restricted all gambling activity to certain specific zones in the country that are very rarely visited due the majority of these zones being in sparse areas.

As a result of the 2009 ban the “computer clubs” in Russia gained popularity and was very much in demand with the number of “computer clubs” in Moscow alone rising from 23 to 98.  Many of these clubs were offering gamblers access to online casino and poker and despite every attempt by the Russian government to shut them down these “computer clubs” are still believed to be operating illegally.

Ivan Sawidi from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party sponsored a bill that has now been introduced and in future any online poker players who are found wagering outside of the specific zones that were outlined in the 2009 legislation will be liable to a fine of between 500 and 2000 roubels ($15 / $65).

Sawidi is hopeful that the new law will widen the targets for gambling offences as whereas the gamblers themselves are now responsible the law previously concentrated on the suppliers of gambling.

A Russian lawyer from Tulebyeva, Osipov and Partners, Irina Tulubyeva, agrees with the bill and commented “If the gamblers know that they will pay a fine, there will be fewer of those willing to play. And they are becoming partners in crime, even though the main punishment will still be given to the organizers”.

In an attempt to prevent people from exploiting loopholes in Russia’s gambling laws that forbid them to gamble outside of the specified gaming zones, a second bill has also been introduced.  The aim of this bill is to better define “slot machine”.

Moscow alone has over 700 legal lottery clubs and although their slot machines do not accept coins, they are usually merely gaming halls called by another name.

Alexander Pochinok, a Member of the Federal Council, explained that slot machines will be banned if the bill is accepted.

It would appear as though Russia’s clampdown on the country’s “illegal” gambling trade is at last gaining momentum.

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