Roskomnadzor, a telecommunications regulator in Russia, released the information they gathered during 2016 relating to prohibited websites. According to their reports, there were 87,000 sites featuring various illicit materials. Of that number, nearly 16,000 sites enabled online gambling and services connected to online gambling.
Significant Increase Compared to 2015
Roskomnadzor revealed that the number of prohibited sites went up significantly in relation to the previous year. 2016 saw a 30% increase, creating more work for the regulator. In the end, they were able to get some 52,000 in line through a warning, while 34,500 were blocked or removed by internet service providers.
Acting on the Reports
The regulator undertakes a majority of its actions based on the reports received from the public. During 2016, they had received nearly 130,000 of these tip-offs, and they had to check all of them. It turned out, some 40,000 of them were without grounds.
Interestingly enough, domains offering online gambling or related services nearly topped the list when it comes to a number of reports. They were only surpassed by reports about websites featuring various “extremist materials.” This seems to suggest that many Russians are not particularly keen on online gambling sites and would like as many of them removed as possible.
Of the entire number of online gambling sites reported, Roskomnadzor managed to permanently shut down 12,500. There were also 6,500 sites that belong to the category of the online casino or online poker operators, not based in Russia. Online gambling has been forbidden in Russia for quite some time now, and the regulator is doing everything in its power to prevent these sites from acquiring Russian players.
While the topic of the validity of such prohibitions can be discussed at length, Roskomnadzor acts in accordance with current laws in place. It is their duty to look into and, provided sufficient reason, act upon any breeches of law concerning prohibited web materials. A big number of gambling sites they came across over the year suggests that many seek to bypass the laws and continue to operate within the forbidden industry.
Apart from online gambling sites, the regulator warned off or shut down completely numerous sites from other categories. These were mainly sites dealing with drug trafficking or certain types of pornography. It is also interesting to note that the number of illicit gambling sites saw a 153% surge in relation to the first quarter of 2016.