The stranglehold of Russian Gambling Laws is on the verge of getting tighter with new draft legislation targeting users of internet casinos in Russia. If passed, gamblers at these sites could be subjected to fines.
Ivan Savvidi of United Russia introduced a bill which recommends levies from 500 to 2000 rubles for anyone who wagers outside the official gambling zones by utilizing either the internet or mobile networks.
This is a dramatic change from previous proscription strategies. As described by Savvidi, “Previously the law only concerned organisers of gambling, and now the gamblers themselves will also be responsible.”
Irina Tulubyeva, of the Tulubyeva, Osipov, and Partners law firm, endorsed the use of fines stating “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.”
Samuil Bender, deputy executive director of the Russian gambling business development association counters, “We have to judge what causes damage to someone, and a man who comes and spends his own money is not a criminal.”
Online discussion by internet forums users has shown a decidedly and predictably mixed reaction.
A user of Championat called “Helcaor”, a self-professed professional online poker player stated, “Poker isn’t always just a way to pass the time. For me, for example, it is my only source of income.”
Another user known by “Enter”, who may never have touched an online poker site in Russia during his life, reacted “If they ban it, so what? There will be more time to spend with family.”
A note attached to the bill suggests that internet gambling could be especially tantalizing to under-aged players who may somehow be pressured as a result of their age. Another portion of the bill will attempt to more rigorously define “illegal slot machines” to shut diverse existing loopholes.
Since 2009, Casinos have been severely restricted throughout Russia, with legal casinos only within four zones. Less than two weeks ago, Russia placed more limits on casino gambling, prohibiting casinos within the Rostov Region, a portion of the southern Azov City casino zone.