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MORE RUSSIAN MOVES TO BLOCK INTERNET GAMBLING BLACKLISTED SITES?
Addressing Russia's top annual technology and security conference - InfoForum 2015 - last week, Russia's Information Policy and Communications Committee chairman Leonid Levin hinted that the national parliament would consider laws designed to prevent anonymous Internet surfing in order to exclude citizens from undesirable websites - including online gambling enterprises - appearing on the nation's federal blacklist.
Roskomnadzor, Russia's federally mandated agency for the supervision of communications, is charged with maintaining the blacklist of undesirable websites, and for identifying sites that do not comply with national laws.
Once Rozkomnadzor has placed a site on the blacklist, the operator-owner is required to stop access from Russian citizens, but this has become increasingly problematic due to the unilateral nature of the process, and allegations that it has been abused by officials to censor content that is not to the liking of political leaders like the autocratic president, Vladimir Putin.
The result has been what many see as undeserved inclusions on the notorious Russian black list, for example the high profile online poker site Pokerstars, which reportedly has a large following in Russia.
Determined Russian punters have resorted to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Tor anonymous technology to continue to access the banned sites, and this circumvention now appears to be the next target for Russian apparatchiks.
Whilst observers point out that it may prove to be a nut difficult to crack for officialdom, given the constantly evolving nature of the sophisticated software available, more restrictive legislation in Russia is not an attractive prospect for either punters or the industry.
The warning signs went up several months ago, when Russian officials were offering monetary rewards for information useful in resolving the Tor problem, perhaps motivated by the need to suppress views on the Ukrainian situation that do not jibe with Putin's rhetoric on his ambitions for territorial expansion.
PATIENT POKER FANS IN LINE FOR $82 MILLION
The Garden City Group - Ben Affleck betting odds to win Poker Madden Betting Pandemonia the independent financial administration company selected by the US Department of Justice to dish out legitimate Full Tilt Poker payments - has announced that the first tranche of pay-outs will involve $82 million dollars and will go to 30,000 former Full Tilt players who have no dispute with the amount in their FTP accounts as assessed by the administrator.
The payments are expected to go out at the end of this (February) month, and will be financed from the hundreds of millions of dollars paid to the DoJ by Pokerstars in settlement of its Black Friday shutdown three years ago and its subsequent acquisition of Full Tilt Poker (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Unconfirmed reports suggest that as much as $300 million may have been involved in the official seizure and shutdown of Full Tilt Poker in April 2011.
The following year, Pokerstars inked a deal with the DoJ, agreeing to repay FTP's international players and hand over another $547 million for the DoJ to disburse to owed FTP players in the USA, clearing the way for its takeover of Full Tilt Poker.
Although Pokerstars complied with its undertaking to pay the international players, doling out another $184 million, the DoJ spent an inordinate amount of time finding the right administrator and putting an assessment and payment system in place.
In the next phase, GCG will deal with players who dispute the amounts it claims they are owed, along with the cases of affiliate marketers with FTP accounts and professional players engaged by the old management.
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