Weapons of War: Ukraine Stops Illegal Russian Online Casino
The war in Ukraine has been raging on for over 9 months since the Russian Federation began its invasion on the 24th of February 2022. Now the Ukrainians have put an end to an illegal Russian online casino scheme used to funnel funds to the Russian mainland.
Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine has been the unfortunate top news story of 2022. The situation has already cost countless lives and has not yet shown any real signs of slowing down. In a new twist, online casinos have now also been thrown into the mix.
For some time, gambling was completely banned in Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament would outlaw gambling in 2009 after a fire broke out in a gambling hall in Dnipro, killing nine people. The ban also came after prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko stated that the country’s 100,000 gaming salons were ”demoralising Ukraine’s youth and sucking the last savings from families”.
In 2020, however, the Ukrainian Parliament overturned the ban with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s approval of the ”On State Regulation of Organising and Conducting Gambling” act.
Now, in November 2022, cyber specialists from the national SSU (Security Services of Ukraine) have managed to block a Russian-created organised criminal group and its illegal online casino operations. According to the local newspaper Odessa Journal, the group managed to funnel around 3 billion Ukrainian hryvnias to the Russian Federation. This equates to roughly approximately 80 million euros.
The SSU Cyber Security Department has stated that the illegal organisation included both 5 Russian and 5 Ukrainian citizens but that it was headed by people born in the Russian Federation. Apparently, the Ukrainians in the group were more in charge of setting things up, gathering clients, and advertising the illegal online casino to customers. The Russian branch of the operation, on the other hand, seemingly had more of an executive role.
After analysing the casino’s money transactions, officials concluded that almost 3 billion hryvnias had indeed been sent to the Russian Federation through crypto transfers.
The online casino’s identity has not been revealed to the public and the site has swiftly been taken offline.
The Odessa Journal news article does not contain information on whether the illegal casino was used to fund the Russian war machine. However, chances are that it wasn’t, given that there were indeed five Ukrainian nationals involved as well. Even so, having Ukrainians colluding with Russian organised crime at a time like this is rather thought-provoking, to say the least. Here is hoping that the senseless war will soon come to an end and that all of those taking part in well-publicised war crimes will be prosecuted. After that, I don’t think anyone of us would mind seeing friendly and good Russian people collaborating with Ukrainians in a more legal manner.