Russia’s Biggest Underground Online Casino Is Exposed
A lot of blacklisted online casino operators try to protect their identity by keeping things very secretive and having little to no information available online. However, a recent slip up made by the Kyiv Holosiivskyi District Court in one of their documents has exposed Russia’s biggest underground online casino.
Azino777 is Russia’s biggest online casino which operates out of Ukraine and channels its money through the Ukrainian branch of Russia’s Sberbank. The owner of this online casino has also been exposed.
Reporters from The Bell, a Russian business media outlet noticed that the real name of the owner of Azino777 was Albert Valiakhmetov. He is a 33-year old IT specialist from the Tatarstan region of Russia. The authorities will now use this information to launch an investigation.
Though gambling is illegal both in Russia and Ukraine, Azino777 has circumvented local laws and become the largest online casino in the region. Estimates put annual bets at around $230,000. The online casion also uses social media advertising to attract Russian customers as its ads are place in the Russian language.
According to the court’s papers, Valiakhmetov operated Azino777 through a company in Ukraine named Royal Game. On the market, it was known as Orion Lab and had 15 people working for it. This included designers, developers, and marketers who all worked out of a Kyiv office. The Orion Lab brand disappeared in 2015. This was when Royal Game switched to another front business for its activities.
All of this came to light in June 2018, when Ukrainian cops searched the office of Royal Game while investigating gambling-related crimes. This was when evidence surfaced that pointed to Valiakhmetov who was reported to be the man behind the Azino777 site since 2014.
The investigation into this matter is still ongoing. Though there was no report of anyone being arrested, the police confiscated computers, USB sticks, and mobile phones that were allegedly connected to the online casino’s activities. The latest court decision permitted the investigation of the equipment. Russia has also taken steps against Azino777 by blocking banks from doing any transactions with any company associated with the casino.
The Azino777 brand has been making waves for several years now. It made a name for itself by running constant ads on Russian file-sharing sites. The casino also featured several videos from Russian hip-hop stars praising it as promotional vehicles. The site is also notorious for claiming links to Western gaming companies like Novomatic and Gamesys, though both have denied it.
Russia’s Roskomnadzor has routinely blocked the site and related domains from operating in Russian jurisdiction. There are over 1,300 Azino777-related domains listed on the blacklist. Plus, Azino777’s Russian parent company Victory777 has the dubious honour of being the first company to be part of Russia’s online payment processing blacklist.