Sarkis Darbinyan Addresses Current Situation with Gambling Website Blocking
Recent website blocking bothers a lot of news online resources focusing on the gambling business. RGW Sochi media office has discussed this issue with Sarkis Darbinyan, the head and lawyer of the Digital Rights Protection Center, who will describe the situation in detail on 27 October at the gambling industry conference.
Interviewer: Russian Gaming Week Sochi (RGW)
Expert: Sarkis Darbinyan (S.D.)
RGW: Sarkis, tell us please, what is the reason of such an active gambling website blocking?
S.D.: Actually, restricted access to such websites started in 2012 when prosecution authorities obtained an opportunity to go to court with lawsuits in special proceedings. The mechanism worked in such way that any district procurator could bring an action in their jurisdiction, and then the court declared the resource information illegal. After the court decision becoming effective, it was addressed to the Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications for further access restriction by communications providers.
However, after the Law No. 222-FZ providing regulation on prohibiting gambling and lotteries activity using the Internet became effective and after related amendments to the Federal Law No. 149-FZ on Information, the Federal Tax Service of Russia obtained an opportunity to pass judgments on blocking gambling information websites without legal proceedings.
RGW: What gambling information can be regarded as illegal?
S.D.: Firstly, it is any information regarding participation in a game of chance, lottery, and betting pool. Thus, all online casinos, games of chance, services offering to play real money poker and bookmaker websites, except legalized ones, are blocked by the regulator.
Currently, there are only four legalized bookmakers that the Federal Tax Service doesn’t block. All of them are members of the Center of tracking the interactive bet transactions and you can find this list on the official website.
RGW: What should the Internet resource owners do if their website is blocked?
S.D.: Initially, they should try to find a compromise with the regulator about website removal from a register after restricting information acknowledged as illegal. Because frequently, not only gambling web resources are blocked in view of access restriction for providers, but also a lot of gambling-related publications for posting hyperlinks to resources prohibited by tax inspectors on the website.
RGW: Will this situation influence the decrease of online casino amount?
S.D.: Undoubtedly, it has an impact on the whole Russian gambling market. Websites are no longer accessible in general mode but we should realize that such ways of web resources blocking don’t influence the overall world image. Surely, now web services are losing some traffic, but each such blocking measure is improving people’s technical skills, and currently, millions of users know how to bypass it. Technologies do not stand still. For instance, recently, well-known Opera browser has announced its update and VPN service free integration into the browser. That’s why it is easier and easier to bypass inefficient online censorship ways.
RGW: You will speak at RGW Sochi 2016 gambling forum. What will the conference audience learn from your presentation?
S.D.: I will tell about legal precedents related with restricting access to gambling resources: how it happens technically, how the Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications executes requirements of the Federal Tax Service. Undoubtedly, we will talk about gambling legal regulation in Russia and discuss legislative measures that should be implemented in order to receive online gambling licenses, at least within existing gambling zones.
You can buy tickets to RGW Sochi on 27 October here: https://goo.gl/8D0d4w .