Russian Laws Governing Online Gambling

You could be forgiven for assuming that under Russian law, gambling in any form is either completely outlawed or monopolized. However, there is some variation in the actual scenario. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of Russia’s current attitude on the many forms of gambling, both online and off.

Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status

To summarize Russia’s gambling laws, most types of gambling are either outright prohibited or subject to severe restrictions, with the notable exception of sports betting, which is freely available in both brick-and-mortar and digital formats across the country.

Let’s take a closer look at the specific rules for each type of gambling that is legal in Russia:

gaming Since 1987, Russian law has permitted land-based casinos to offer gaming services to their customers. There are currently five designated gaming zones in the country, each of which requires operators to receive a license from the Ministry of Finance.

There is currently no way for Russian or foreign companies to get licenses to provide online casino gambling. Roskomnadzor, a government-owned media watchdog, is responsible for shutting down international online casinos, and anyone found gambling there faces a modest punishment. Despite this, many gamblers still visit offshore sites because they provide some of the best slot machines available.


Since 1987, Russian law has allowed land-based casinos to provide poker games to their customers. Russia does not have any dedicated poker rooms. Because poker is seen as a game of chance rather than skill, it can only be played in licensed casinos. Multiplayer poker (including cash games and tournaments) is often seen as a game of chance, despite the fact that many have tried to convince others that it is more of a game of skill.


Roskomnadzor has blocked access to offshore sites that offer poker games due to the country’s strict stance on online gambling. In practice, however, players rarely encounter any difficulty getting around these ISP restrictions.



Bingo halls and online bingo sites are both completely legit in Russia. Stoloto, a business contracted by the state, runs the monopoly games at the different Bingo Boom bingo halls across the country and online. Bingo is regulated differently than other kinds of gambling in Russia due to the fact that it is considered a lottery game.


Although the law frowns upon any form of bingo play, individuals nonetheless frequent online bingo halls for fun and profit.



The Russian government operates a monopoly on lotteries despite their legality. Draws, scratch cards, keno, and instant games are all exclusively run by Stoloto in Russia. The proceeds from lotteries are redistributed by the Ministry of Finance to initiatives designed to encourage more regular exercise and sports participation across the country.


Lottery site blockage by Roskomnadzor is less prevalent than it is for foreign casino operator sites, despite the fact that it is unlawful to play online lottery games for real money via offshore lottery sites in Russia.


RNG and Social Gambling

Loot box and skins gaming, both of which are becoming increasingly popular, are not covered by the Russian government’s regulations on online gambling. Also, free or social internet casinos, including those where you can buy chips with real money, are not mentioned in any laws.

Gambling Regulations in Russia


While Russia does not generally allow gambling, there is a notable exception for sports betting. Sports betting, both at brick-and-mortar establishments and online, are permitted.


Russia legalized land-based sports betting in 1987. The Ministry of Finance in Russia issues licenses to businesses that run sports betting shops and totalisators across the country. In contrast to other nations, Russia does not have a monopoly on sports betting and instead issues licenses to various companies.


Russia’s Federal Tax Service issues online gambling licenses following the country’s 2016 legalization of sports betting on the site. More than 30 enterprises have been granted permission to legally do business in the country, and applications can be submitted from anywhere in the world. A player could face a fine if they wager on sports through an unregulated site.


The legal framework for gambling in Russia does not directly address fantasy or virtual sports. Legislation does not currently address Bitcoin esports betting or other types of gambling that use cryptocurrencies. Even though Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ether are all legal tender in Russia, the country nonetheless maintains a wary attitude toward digital currencies.


Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21

Land-based casinos and other gambling facilities in Russia restrict access to people at least 18 years old, as do sportsbooks and other forms of legalized gambling.


Controlling Taxes

Russia’s gambling tax law requires establishments to pay fees based on the variety of games they provide, the number of betting machines they maintain, or the type of gambling license they hold. Thus, a licensed online gaming company may be required to pay a tax of between RUB 2.5 million and RUB 3 million, or anywhere between RUB 3,000 and RUB 15,000.


Gamblers in Russia have a considerably more favorable tax situation. Winnings from legal online casinos or the national lottery are not subject to taxation in this country. Winnings from any other form of gambling are subject to a 13% tax.


Russian Gambling Laws and Their Past

Before the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922, gambling was mostly a hedonistic activity of the affluent. Almost all forms of gambling were outlawed in Soviet-era Russia, with the exception of the national lottery and a few sportsbooks. After the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the country began transitioning its economy to a free market, gambling became mostly uncontrolled and a major source of revenue.


In 1989, Russia saw the opening of its first legitimate casino, and by 1994, the country was home to 496 casinos. Only one-third of businesses were licensed, and the vast majority of owners routinely avoided paying taxes, yet it is estimated that twice as many businesses were operating illegally. Increased revenue and less crime have resulted from legislative changes made in 1998 to crack down on tax evasion and clean up the sector.


To combat organized crime, the Federal Sports Agency took over the role of issuing gaming licenses from state and local governments in 2002. Between 2002 and 2005, 6,300 establishments were authorized by the FSA at a cost of just $100 each.


However, problems continued to plague the industry despite these attempts. Casino gambling was rendered illegal throughout Russia outside of designated gaming zones by federal law N 244-FZ, which went into effect on December 29, 2006.


Online gambling was another target of the new legislation, and it was outlawed entirely. As a result, despite the government’s repeated warnings, Russians flocked to unauthorized internet gambling sites, causing the industry to flourish throughout the country.


The government legalized several forms of internet gambling in 2016 after amending Federal Law 244.

Legal Online Gambling in Russia: The Basics


Important details to keep in mind concerning Russia’s gaming regulations include:


Land-based casinos and poker rooms must be licensed and located within one of the country’s designated “gaming zones” for their operations to be permitted.

Live casinos, online poker rooms, and online gambling sites are all unlawful.

Legal bingo and lottery play is restricted to the Stoloto monopoly.

Both land-based and virtual sportsbooks are legitimate, as long as they are run by legitimate businesses.

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