A new law has been passed in Russia to forbid the use of VPN´s – Virtual Private Network – for private citizens. The law will take effect on November 1st and is yet another blow to Internet freedom for Russian citizens. But aside from the law´s political implications it will also strike a hard blow to the country´s millions of Internet gamblers, who will no longer be able to access their favorite gaming sites, whether to play casino, poker or to bet on sports.
Online Gambling in Russia
During the era of the Soviet Union, gambling was completely outlawed by the Communist government, and the law was strictly upheld. After the fall of Communist Russia, gambling of all kinds became legal during the liberal years under Boris Jeltsin. After Putin took over, brick and mortar casinos were restricted to four different regions of the country, and Online Casinos were completely outlawed. Still, Russian gamblers have been able to circumvent the prohibition by using Virtual Private Networks, and the Online Casino market in the country is estimated to be worth 3 billion US dollars a year.
Internet Gambling and VPNs
A VPN is a service that masks your Internet presence, and allows you to be anonymous. In other words, you can sit in Russia and surf the net, while the servers will see you as a native user, i.e. surfing from a country that allows casino gambling. It can also encrypt your communications.
This technology can be used to access information that a government wishes to censor, but it can also be used to register and play at the online casino of your choice. Setting up a VPN used to be difficult and requiring the aid of IT professionals, but lately the market for easy-to-use web based VPN solutions has exploded, which is probably the reason that Russia has enacted this law.</P
Whether they’ll be able to enforce it remains to be seen, but the future looks bleak for online gambling in Putin´s Russia.