On Wednesday, the Izvestia news outlet reported that the Roskomnadzor agency had blocked the Amazon service following a demand from the Federal Tax Service (FTS). The takedown has affected as estimated 21.4m Russians by blocking access to sites including NetFlix, Twitter, Dropbox and Airbnb, all of which utilized Amazon as a host.
The FTS said Amazon had violated Russian law by running an ad for 888Poker that included a link to download the company’s poker app. Roskomnadzor said it had contacted Amazon regarding the offending 888 ad but that Amazon had taken no action in response to Roskomnadzor’s request/order, leaving it with no alternative but to drop the ban-hammer.
Last year, Roskomnadzor was given authority to block access to sites deemed to be operating contrary to Russian law. Russia is currently in the process of regulating its online sports betting market, but online poker and casino sites remain expressly illegal, a position easily confirmed by a glance at the dozens of daily additions to Roskomnadzor’s list of forbidden domains.
Roskomnadzor has blocked a couple dozen 888 domain derivatives this month, along with the now traditional sampling of domains belonging to PokerStars, PartyPoker, Pinnacle, Sportingbet, local operators 1xbet and other sites that continue to fart in Roskomnadzor’s general direction.
There remains the possibility that the Amazon takedown may have taken on particular urgency given last week’s launch of 888.ru, Russia’s second licensed online sports betting operator. The site is run by Russian lottery operator Stoloto and has nothing to do with 888 Holdings, but Stoloto may have been extra keen to avoid any lingering brand confusion.