Russia targets foreign online bookmakers

  • Russian parliament OKs block on payment processing
  • Crackdown targets internationally-licensed bookmakers

A legislative committee of the Russian parliament has given the stamp of approval to measures that would interfere with payment processing for foreign-based online casino sites, as part of a push to force Russian bettors to use local sites.

The measures follow legislation introduced earlier in the year that made it illegal for banks and other payment processors to deal with online casino sites that were licensed internationally.

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Russia is moving to ensure that bettors only wager with local online casinos

The new measures, to be introduced under draft federal law 108659-7, had their first reading at the end of last week.

However, the State Duma Committee on Budget and Taxes has already recommended its approval, and it is thus expected to become law.

The Russian government is engaged in a push to force Russian gamblers to wager at Russian-licensed online betting sites, and has been taking a number of steps to make it harder for foreign-based sites to operate, including increasing fines for ISPs that don’t comply with block requests issued by the state communications organisation, Roskomnadzor.

As part of the new measures, a blacklist of non-compliant payment processors who flout the ban on outlawed gambling transactions would also be created.

Rival payment systems

Under the current system, Russian-licensed online casino companies have to channel all payments that they receive through one of two payment system hubs.

The first is supported through the First Self-Regulatory Organization (First SRO) of Russian Bookmakers, and the second deals with payments for the Bookmakers SRO group, a rival organisation.

Both organizations have been in turmoil in recent months. First SRO’s president Oleg Zhuravsky died suddenly in March, and has been replaced by Liga Stavok co-founder Yuri Krasovsky, while Bookmakers SRO have just announced a new chairman after the surprise resignation of Nicholas Oganzezov last October.

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