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Russian Casinos

S. Stoynova (editor)

Russia is a country that boasts quite a few achievements in various fields, but when it comes to the gambling sector, there is much work to be done until the country opens the doors to legal gambling activities. Even though gambling in brick-and-mortar gaming facilities has been legalized to a certain extent, those seeking the comfort of playing online will be very disappointed.

As of 2006, almost all forms of land-based and online gambling on the territory of the Russian Federation were officially banned by law. Several years later, new legislation was enforced that allowed land-based gambling only in five specific zones of the country. To be able to launch a gambling facility in any pf the permitted territories, operators must obtain a license from the Ministry of Finance. These restrictions, however, have hardly prevented Russian players from placing wagers on the web since partaking in interactive gambling activities remains a popular pastime among many citizens despite the fact the Russian government has blacklisted an excessive number of foreign gambling operators.

With no law permitting any form of online gaming in Russia, there is also no regulatory body to issue licenses and oversee this sector. That said, many Russians resort to offshore online casinos that operate either without a license or have little to no restrictions on players’ jurisdictions. If Russian players put some effort into it, they will certainly come across online casinos that are willing to accept registrations from this jurisdiction. If you are interested in the current legal landscape in regard to online gambling in the biggest country in the world and websites where you can still play while residing in Russia, we suggest you keep reading.

Russia’s Legal Stance on Gambling

Russia FlagDuring the Soviet regime, all forms of gambling in the country were prohibited by law. The first legal gambling establishment in Russia opened doors in 1989, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This led to gambling venues springing up like mushrooms throughout the country and by 1994, hundreds of land-based casinos were already in operation. One of the biggest issues, however, resulted from the fact the majority of these establishments did not pay any taxes on their profits.

At the turn of the 21st century, gambling had become a major problem for the Russian government. In 2002, there were as many as 60,000 slot machines in operation in the Russian capital of Moscow alone, with licenses issued by the Federal Sports Agency (FSA). Meanwhile, the regional authorities no longer had a say in licensing and regulating gambling operations within the Russian provinces.

This caused a major backlash and as a result, all gambling establishments housing slot machines, card rooms, and tables with games of chance like craps and roulette were officially outlawed throughout the country with the exception of five “gambling” zones i.e. provinces – Yantarnaya, Siberian Coin, Primorie, Azov-city, and Crimea. The latter was added as a gambling zone in 2019 but still has not launched any gambling facilities. All brick-and-mortar gambling establishments, located outside the above-listed provinces were basically forced to close shop overnight when the ban came into effect in 2009. At the present moment, state lotteries are the only legal form of land-based gambling outside the five gambling zones.

Needless to say, this ban extended to interactive gambling as well since the government decided to draw up a blacklist with unauthorized gaming operators. At the start of 2015, the authorities announced their plans to commence blocking the domains of the blacklisted gambling websites. Thus, the access to all forms of interactive gambling, including virtual casino games, poker, and sports betting, was severely restricted. The blacklist consisted of both Russian and foreign online gambling providers. Toward the fall of the same year, the websites of some of the biggest gambling operators in the industry had already been blocked, including established names like Pinnacle, Ladbrokes, PokerStars, Betway, 888poker, partypoker, Full Tilt, William Hill, and Titan Poker.

While not all operators are blocked, this “censorship” on behalf of the Russian government renders it quite difficult for players from the country to access gambling websites and wager from the comfort of their surroundings. It would be fair to say the government makes a pretty good job at filtering the websites that provide real-money gambling to Russian citizens. What is more, the blacklist is updated on a regular basis, with the access to more and more gambling websites being restricted. It makes sense that the advertisement and promotion of online gambling activities are also prohibited by law. Furthermore, Russia’s biggest search engine, Yandex, was asked by authorities to take down all site advertisements that openly promoted gambling-related activities over the internet.

There are no causes for concern for players, however, as there are no known cases of Russian citizens being persecuted by law for engaging in illegal online gambling activities. The biggest problem players face is finding a way around the ISP blacklist and accessing the blocked websites. Some poker fans from the country have shared it is possible for them to play their favorite game of skill for real money using the downloadable poker clients, offered by popular platforms, such as PokerStars.

Russian players who are caught in the act of violating the ban imposed by the government risk incurring a minor fine for participating in illegal gambling activities on the web. However, the risk of being fined for interactive gambling is indeed minuscule since the local authorities appear to have concentrated their efforts predominantly on blocking online gambling operators.

In addition, most players do not experience any issues when it comes to processing deposits or withdrawals to and from online gambling websites. However, there is no way of knowing how long this would last, considering the fact the Russian government has so far demonstrated a grim determination to eradicate all forms of interactive gambling in the country.

That being said, there are still some online casinos to welcome Russian players as long as the latter manage to actually gain access to their websites. Such casino operators strive to accommodate their Russian customers and in many cases, it is possible to process one’s payments in the local currency, RUB.

The websites of many online casinos are also available in Russian which allows players from the country to deposit, play the games, claim various bonuses, and manage their accounts in a convenient, hassle-free, and effortless manner.

Gambling Regulations in Russia

Roskomnadzor LogoSince online casino gambling is practically prohibited in Russia, the state regulates only the land-based wagering activities on the territory of the four “gambling” zones, Azov-city, Siberian Coin, Primorie, and Yantarnaya. The Federal Executive Agency is the state institution responsible for overseeing the gambling operations within the four zones.

The land-based gambling operators are expected to meet certain criteria before they acquire a valid license. For instance, gambling establishments cannot be located within residential fund properties and the net assets of the companies should be no less than RUB600 million for casino and slot machines operators, and RUB100 million for totalizators and sportsbooks. The net assets of each applicant are calculated by the Ministry of Finance.

In addition, the land-based casino operators are expected to ensure the personal safety of their employees and customers. Another requirement is for the customer service areas in land-based establishments to feature a minimum of ten gambling tables. Slot machines, on the other hand, should have an average player return of at least 90%.

Gambling Taxation in Russia

In Russia, there are taxes imposed on players’ winnings, which is not the case in many countries throughout Europe. More importantly, all profits generated through gambling need to be declared as income by players. Failing to do so is treated as an attempt at tax evasion and as such, would result in additional fines for the violators.

That being said, Russian players are required by law to pay a tax of 13% of their winnings. In some instances, this percentage is deducted from players’ winnings on the spot i.e. when they cash out at the cashier of the land-based gambling venue they have accrued their winnings at. In most cases, players are required to declare their winnings as income when filling in their income tax forms.

Also, if you are gambling at a Russian casino and are lucky enough to turn a profit, you should by no means forget to take your passport with you since players in Russia are expected to produce their passports in order to collect their winnings.

The operations of land-based gambling establishments are also subjected to taxation, with the average tax per gaming table standing at RUB250,000. Brick-and-mortar casinos offering slots must comply with a tax of RUB15,000 per machine while land-based betting shops are subjected to taxes ranging between RUB10,000 to RUB14,000.

All material prizes Russian citizens can possibly win are themselves subjected to taxes that amount to up to 35% of their market-price value. The only exception to this rule is when the value of the prize in question is less that RUB4,000.

The Future of Online Gambling in Russia

Russia Gambling FutureAs far as gambling is concerned, the situation in Russia is looking rather grim and unfortunately, shows no sign of potentially improving in the future. At the beginning of 2017, it became clear the Russian government is currently in the process of considering the introduction of a new piece of legislation, similar to the UIGEA (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) that came into effect in the United States as of 2006. In other words, the idea here is to prohibit Russian banking institutions and financial services providers from processing payments to and from unauthorized websites for interactive gambling. In addition, the Russian authorities appear to be rather consistent with their practice of blocking unauthorized foreign casinos as more and more names are added to the blacklist on a regular basis.

There is a silver lining, however. Some industry experts believe that the stricter measures Russia has taken against online gambling as of late can actually be interpreted as a sign the country is moving towards the establishment of a regulated gambling market. This assumption is not entirely unjustified, considering that in 2016 the government already issued its first online sports betting licenses to several domestic operators.


Can locals visit the land-based casinos located in any of the legal gambling zones in Russia?

Yes. The gambling establishments that have obtained the required permissions to operate in any of the gambling zones in Russia are open to both tourists and local visitors. At the moment of writing this answer, however, there are land-based gaming locations launched only in four of the five zones, with only 6 brick-and-mortar casinos operating in the entire country.

Can Russian players make bets in RUB while they play online?

As there are still some offshore casinos that welcome players from Russia, it is possible that they are allowed to handle their casino payments in RUB. However, some foreign gaming sites do not support the currency, leaving Russian players no other choice but to use a different currency that may lead to currency conversion fees being deducted during casino transactions.

Can Russian players face any penalties if caught gambling at offshore online casinos?

While online gaming is still illegal in Russia and there is no sign of the country legalizing the industry any time soon, many Russians still resort to offshore online casinos to play their favorite games. Luckily for players, there are no legal actions taken against Russians who have knowingly or unknowingly participated in illegal online casino gaming. Instead, local authorities focus on penalties imposed on operators who offer illegal online casino products to players based in Russia.

Deposit Methods

With some offshore online casinos accepting registrants from Russia, it is important to know how Russian players can easily handle their bankrolls, ensuring them a budget-friendly and safe way to enjoy online real-money gaming. Many virtual casinos that cater to players from the country also support payments in RUB and specific payment solutions that are mostly available in Russia. That way, Russian casino enthusiasts can handle their online casino payments in a hassle-free way, eliminating the inconvenient charge of currency conversion fees.
While the availability of payment methods depends on the casino, in most cases, Russian players can resort to methods like card payments, e-wallets, including ones operating in Russia, and other third-party banking solutions.

Bank Cards

A convenient way to handle your casino deposits if you are a Russian player is utilizing a credit/debit card. This is a widely accessible payment solution that enables fast and secure casino deposits, with the majority of Russian-friendly casinos imposing no fees on top-ups carried out via bank cards. Most online casinos catering to Russian players accept Visa and Mastercard-branded cards, and you may come across brands that support deposits through the card payment system of Mir, which is exclusively available in Russia.

In most cases, players who have funded their casino accounts via bank cards will also have the chance to withdraw their winnings to the same card. It should be noted that card casino payouts tend to be slower than deposits as the casino first needs to approve the withdrawal request. After that, it usually takes up to 3 business days, sometimes more, to receive your casino money.

While using a bank card for online casino payments is considered a safe way to handle your transactions, some players might not appreciate the fact that they need to expose their card details to initiate their casino deposits and withdrawals.


If Russian players do not feel like using their credit/debit cards for their online casino payments, they might be able to resort to another option. Many Russian-friendly gaming sites support payments via different e-wallets, with WebMoney, Yandex.Money, and Qiwi often being among the supported options.

A great perk of utilizing an e-wallet for your casino payments is the ability to top up your gaming balance instantly, with no sensitive information being shared during the transaction. That way, Russian players can still handle their gaming bankrolls in a hassle-free way and make sure they are properly protected while doing so.

Usually, e-wallets are also supported as a withdrawal option at quite a few Russian-friendly online casinos. That allows players residing in Russia to get access to their winnings in a safe and hassle-free way. What is more, e-wallets ensure one of the fastest ways to enjoy your winnings, with this solution often allowing same-day payouts after the casino approves one’s withdrawal request.


Quite a few of the online casinos that welcome players from Russia are dedicated to crypto gaming, ensuring a safe environment for players who prefer a more technologically advanced gaming experience. If Russian players join a crypto casino, they will most likely be able to use Bitcoin for their deposits, allowing them to top up their accounts almost instantly.

Since Bitcoin payments are decentralized, they are virtually untraceable, which can be considered a great advantage for Russian players who have no properly regulated online casino options to choose from. In addition to Bitcoin, crypto casinos tend to support a wide range of other popular cryptocurrencies, often allowing players to use Dogecoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and other well-known crypto coins for their casino payments.

Even if Russian players do not own crypto, most online casinos catering to crypto players will allow them to use a third-party platform that allows purchasing crypto via different fiat methods. That allows any player the chance to easily fund their crypto casino account and play a myriad of fun games. Crypto withdrawals are just as easy and convenient, allowing Russian players to receive their winnings almost instantly, without going through any complicated steps to enjoy their casino funds.

Popular Games and Live Dealers

It is unfortunate that Russian players must resort to offshore casino gaming to enjoy their favorite casino games in the comfort of their homes. That said, they can definitely find several brands that will cater to every need of theirs, offering them a plethora of casino titles powered by a broad selection of software providers.

Without a doubt, the biggest category in any reputable online casino catering to Russian players is the slots one. It usually features a myriad of options, enticing players with various themes, mechanics, bonus features, and potential returns. Whether you enjoy classic 3-reel slots or you are adventurous enough to explore options with more reels and multiple ways to win, you can find plenty of titles to suit your taste. Some all-time favorites that Russian players often might enjoy include Starburst, Book of Dead, and Gates of Olympus, just to name a few.

While slots can be very entertaining, some players prefer classics like roulette, blackjack, and poker. Luckily, many Russian-friendly online casinos make sure to diversify one’s gaming experience by featuring a wide range of table games. These include titles like Roulette Royal, American Roulette, 21 Burn Blackjack, Caribbean Poker, and many more.

Russian players will often have the opportunity to explore some of the most popular video poker variations as they play online. If you have mastered the correct strategy and you feel lucky, you can try popular titles like Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Tens or Better, and more options, with some of them offering to bet on up to 100 hands at once.

Jackpot slots are also extremely popular among Russian players engaging in virtual casino gaming. With daily drops, fixed jackpot prizes, and generous progressive jackpot pots, different casino games can make any lucky player’s online casino experience a lot more exciting.
As already mentioned, Russian players often may choose to play at crypto online casinos. That means they will have access to a wide range of crypto games, many of which are provably fair. What that means is that every player will be able to verify the validity of every result, making the whole gaming experience a lot more trustworthy.

Russian players definitely have a wide range of options to enjoy while they play online, with online casinos providing anything from classic slots to the most popular variations of table games. To make one’s gaming experience even more thrilling, many brands feature a Live Casino section that reveals numerous live tables, with charming professional dealers conducting different variations of roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and poker. Meanwhile, live game shows will allow players to explore a brand-new way to enjoy their casino experience online.