Russia Gambling – Law, Legality & Games

Russia is a global economic superpower and one of the most important countries in the world. Unlike its American and British counterparts, the country still has a negative view of gambling. There are obvious economic benefits from it since all casinos are liable to heavy taxation. However, different countries have different opinions on it and Russia has a valid point for having gambling banned.

Is Gambling Legal in Russia?

The gambling operations in Russia are kept under the strict control of the country’s government in 4 regions. All gambling operations are land-based and all forms of gambling online are prohibited. Bookmakers’ offices and totalisators can operate anywhere as long as they have a license. Finally, since it’s state-operated the lottery is legal.



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Gambling Types Accepted in Russia    

The lottery is the only form of gambling that’s allowed on a nationwide level. It is state-owned to ensure the citizens receive a fair experience which is why the Ministries of Sport and Finance of the Russian Federation organize them. Land-based casinos are legal in only 4 regions, sportsbooks aren’t bound by those regions but need a license to operate and all types of online gambling are prohibited.

Minimum Age for Legal Gambling in Russia

No one under the age of 18 is to be allowed to gamble or to be employed in a casino. Anyone participating in a lottery has to be 18 years old as of 2018 and must present a passport to prove this if they win a prize.

Gambling Laws for Gamblers and Operators in Russia

Russia has been struggling with the legality of gambling since the early 21st century. When it was a part of the Soviet Union gambling was banned due to it being an idle and bourgeois pastime. It was entirely prohibited on May 8, 1928, and republics within the Union were ordered to take measures against it. As the Union started to crumble gambling started to become popular again.

As an experiment, the first slot machines were allowed in Russia but only in hotels part of the USSR State Committee of Foreign Tourism. As the experiment started getting a good result on August 23rd, 1989 the ban was lifted followed by the first casino being opened the same year. Poker became a popular game and tournaments were even organized but didn’t get widespread attention.

By 2004, Law 142-FZ “On Gambling Tax” had been in effect for six years and Chapter 29 of the Russian Federation’s Tax Code Came into effect. Since January 1st, 2004 gambling tax became regional with the receipts transferred to the budgets of the Federation’s constituent entities. Each region could determine its own gambling tax rate within the limits of the before mentioned law.

As years passed and the Internet became a thing it wasn’t long for the first online gambling sites to be introduced. So far playing casino games and betting on land had been perfectly legal but when online casinos and sportsbooks emerged the government felt that it needed to take control. This is why in 2006 the government voted on a law that prohibited all kinds of online betting and gambling. Despite the ban. Russian players were welcome at most gambling sites since they were avid online gamblers.

The land-based casinos thrived for a time until 2009 came and they were also banned. A new Russian law prohibited the existence of all offline betting and gambling establishments that didn’t comply with it. Sports betting and casino gambling were allowed at bookmakers at sportsbooks and casinos in these four regions: Altai Krai, PrimorskyKrai, Kaliningrad Oblast, and KrasnadorKrai. The casinos and sportsbooks in these regions are submitted to strict restrictions.

Naturally, anyone operating casinos within the regions should have a license. A gambling operator must have net assets that aren’t less than 600,000,000 rubles if they operate casinos or slots halls and less than 100, 000, 000 rubles if they operate bookmakers’ offices and totalisators. Furthermore, the gambling operator is obliged to secure the safety of the gamblers, the staff and other visitors to the premises. Gambling should be done in a premise or facility that is specifically designed for that.

Unlike casinos, the sportsbooks have it a bit easier. Bookmakers’ offices and totalisators can also be opened outside of gaming zones and all one needs to do is have a license to open a sportsbook. The customer service area for casinos shouldn’t be less than 800 square meters and it can feature a minimum of 10 gaming tables. If slot machines are installed there can be no more than 50 of them in zone no lesser than 100 meters square.

When it comes to the lottery, citizens who win 4 thousand to 15 thousand rubles are liable to pay taxes, whereas those who win more than 15 thousand and less than 4 thousand rubles aren’t liable to tax.

Gambling Commissions for Russia

The heavy restrictions on bookmakers’ offices and casinos were imposed so the state can have better control of gambling and so it has a few more tourist attractions. Since the country has a negative view on gambling as a whole it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that the government has banned online gambling.

In 2012, the Russian Supreme Court took the prohibition to the next level by stating that Internet providers had to block access to all online casinos and betting sites. A special regulatory body called Roskomnadzor was created to keep track of the sites. In spite of this, Russians still play casino games and place bets online as the government isn’t interested in the players but those who facilitate gambling activities.

Roskomnadzor is one body and it has been blacklisting a lot of gambling sites. Russian players still enjoy a game of online poker from time to time and from this it’s evident that Russia needs to rethink its policy on online gaming. Besides this regulatory body, the Ministry of Sport along with the Ministry of Finance also functions as regulatory bodies since they operate the lotteries. 

Gambling Games Legal Status in Russia:

Poker: – Land-based poker and online poker is illegal in Russia. Major poker operators are blocked by Russian ISPs, a law that does not effectively apply at the level of individual players.

Bingo: – Bingo is legal in Russia, and bingo games are also available online. Foreign bingo online operators cannot legally offer bingo games to Russian players.

Lottery: – The lottery is legal in Russia, but is monopolized by the state lottery, it offers players lotteries and scratch cards, and these games are also available online on online lottery app.

Sports betting: – Sports betting is legal in Russia, and there are also sports betting companies for licenses in Russia, they provide land-based sports betting services to Russian sports betting players.