Russia closes gambling operators’ social media accounts

Russia’s campaign against unauthorized online gambling operators has extended to social networks both foreign and domestic.

Russia closes gambling operators' social media accountsFor months now, Russian telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor has been adding hundreds of unauthorized online gambling domains to its burgeoning online blacklist on a weekly basis. Earlier this month, Roskomnadzor began blacklisting social media accounts belonging to online gambling sites.

A hint of this new strategy, which aims to enforce prohibitions on promoting or facilitating online gambling or communicating means of circumventing domain blocks, came this month when three betting sites found their Twitter accounts suspended for at the time unexplained reasons.

Roskomnadzor has now formally copped to warning the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Russian social media network VKontakte to suspend accounts deemed to have flouted the prohibition. VKontake alone blocked some 250 accounts linked to over 40 bookmakers, including Fonbet, Marathon and 1xBet.

At least one prominent Russian player thinks Roskomnadzor is barking up the wrong tree. Nikolai Oganezov, head of the Bookmakers Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO), told Betting Business Russia that the social media purge might look good in Roskomnadzor’s reports to the government, “but the real informal sector it does not kill.”

Oganezov believes the best way to convince Russian punters to patronize Russian-licensed sites was to “create favorable conditions for legal business,” such as imposing sensible tax rates, streamlining the cumbersome process of registering with the TSUPIS centralized payments hubs and allowing operators some freedom in marketing. Otherwise, Oganezov suggested Roskomnadzor was engaged in a Quixotic fight against online windmills.