Russia Beefs Up Measures to Block Online Gambling Payments
Russia introduced a legislation this week that would compel payment processors and banks to block all monetary transactions with international online gambling websites. Russia’s Ministry of Finance has designed the new bill that intends to block the flow of around $3 billion that takes place between international gambling operators and Russian gamblers every year.
The State Duma Committee on Budget and Taxes recommended that legislators accept the draft version of the federal law 108659-7, which was read in the Duma on April 14. The bill was proposed by the Ministry in 2015, but it met with tough resistance from other government ministries. However, Russia has now beefed up its measures to curb unauthorized gambling activities between international gambling operators and Russian gamblers.
What does Russia intend to do with the bill?
The bill is a part of Russia’s continual measures to push Russian punters to gamble with online sports betting sites licensed by the Russian government. The bill includes raising fines for ISPs who don’t block online gambling sites that are weakened by Roskomnadzor, the state communications watchdog in Russia. The new bill intends to create a blacklist of financial agents and payment processors who continue to disregard the ban on financial transfers between gambling sites and punters.
Online bookmakers licensed by Russia are required to direct all transfers through centralized hubs called TSUPIS. Currently, two rival systems operate in Russia: one aided by the First Self-Regulatory Organization of Russian Bookmakers (also known as First SRO), and the other responsible for payments for the members of the Bookmakers SRO group.
Only a few Russian bookmakers have launched online gambling sites till date. However, Bingo Boom became a part of the list earlier in April and Bet City shows similar intentions of doing the same any day. In order to adhere to the new provisions, Fonbet introduced its official gambling site under the Russian domain. It transferred operations to Fonbet.ru after gaining control of the domain after a long legal battle with an international company.
Although the bill aims at online gambling websites that offer downloads of copyrighted materials, it wouldn’t exclude gambling domains. Nearly 12,561 gambling domains were blocked by Roskomnadzor in 2016 after it blocked sites that featured extremist content. Further, 2810 gambling domains were blocked by the regulator in January 2017, followed by 646 more in the first week of February.