Late last month, approximately 50 online gambling domains were added to the list. Three weeks later, the list was substantially upgraded with 200 more sites.
josef.stuefer, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

The official registry of domains blacklisted in Russia saw a substantial update earlier this month, with hundreds more online gambling domains added.

Published in the official registry on April 11, more domains of Rational Group and bwin.party, plus other big European domains, have been appended.

ISPs are already blocking customers accessing the listed domains, players have reported.

The Roskomnadzor

The registry, known as the “Roskomnadzor,” was first established in 2012. Today it contains nearly 4000 domain names, many of which are pornographic websites, online pharmaceutical companies, “illegal” political videos, and other sites promoting criminal activities.

Late last month, approximately 50 online gambling domains were added to the list. This included PokerStars.com, TitanPoker.com, and a Russian PartyPoker domain.

Three weeks later, the list was substantially upgraded. FullTiltPoker.com was appended, along with all of PokerStars' main dot-country domains.

partypoker, Ladbrokes and Unibet saw their main dot-coms added on April 11, to join Russian-specific sites added in the first wave.

888 is one new addition. Its poker, sport and casino sites, as well as its Pacific Poker brand, have all been added.

Betfair, William Hill, Bet365 and Winner.com, all iPoker skins, were also appended, as well as Betsson and the US-facing Intertops.

Withdrawal Symptoms

ISPs are required to block access to domains on the blacklist, and players quickly reported that the new domains were inaccessible soon after the April 11 update.

Following the first wave of online gambling domains added to the Roskomnadzor, multiple poker rooms took steps back from the market. Betfair decided to “cease acquiring” new customers, citing “recent developments” in the Russian market.

Days later, pokerfuse revealed that Everest Poker—which remains off the blacklist—chose to withdraw from the market.

Recent reports indicate that Unibet has informed affiliates that it too would stop new Russian sign-ups.

“Business as Usual”

Poker’s major operators, however, continue to serve the market. In a statement issued to pokerfuse, a Rational Group representative said business would continue as usual.

“At this time we do not believe recent developments in Russia changes our ability to offer services to Russian players. As such our operations continue as usual,” reads the statement.

While access to primary domains are blocked, the game servers are still accessible. Players with the client downloaded can still log in and play, and payment processing has not yet been affected.

“Our terms and conditions make it clear that our services are not for use in jurisdictions where it is illegal to do so, but the measures taken by Roskomnadzor … does not affect players’ ability to continue playing at Full Tilt Poker or PokerStars,” the statement from Rational Group concludes. Players are assured that their funds remain safe.

bwin.party is another operator that continues to serve the Russian market, despite its addition to the blacklist. The group has stated to investors in the past that it is focusing on key regulated markets. It withdrew marketing from many grey markets in 2013—but Russia was not one of them.

A spokesperson for bwin.party chose not to comment on the developments.