Russia’s anti-gambling laws have been strengthened after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that internet service providers face license loses for even providing information about online betting, Gambling Compliance reported.
Published earlier this month in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the government’s official newspaper, the ruling overturned a decision by a court in the western region of Pskov that Rostelecom, an internet service provider, did not have to block access to online gambling sites.
The Pskov City Court argued that although online gambling was prohibited, providing access to it was not. The Supreme Court, however, overturned that decision, ruling that providing access to restricted information is equal to the dissemination of this information.
“As explained by the highest court, it is necessary to disconnect even sites that contain only information about gambling portals,” the Supreme Court wrote in a ruling.
“This is a much more rigorous approach than in the past: no trace of gambling should remain on the web.”
Online gaming in Russia is prohibited, though enforcement has been spotty and inconsistent. Operating a gambling site is illegal, though playing on one is not. Until now, there’s been little effort to block financial transactions or censor gambling websites.
Baker & McKenzie, an Illinois-based corporate law firm, said in a note that implications for ISPs included:
- Internet service providers are required to block the access of their clients to Internet websites containing information that is restricted under Russian law;
- Compliance with the rules for provision of telecoms services is a licensing requirement;
- Failure to comply with the established requirements may result in suspension (and withdrawal) of the provider’s license;
- The case was sent on remand to the trial court. We will continue monitoring this case further and keep you informed of any developments since the position of the Supreme Court may increase operational risks for internet service providers.