Russia’s telecommunications watchdog has instructed banking and payment processors to purge unauthorized online gambling operators from their customer and client lists.
On Monday, the Izvestia news agency reported that the Roskomnadzor regulatory body had sent letters to Russia’s largest bank Sberbank and payment processors including Skrill and Yandex ordering them to review their client records to ensure compliance with Russian gambling laws.
Roskomnadzor’s missive comes three weeks after Skrill and rival Qiwi found their websites temporarily added to the agency’s growing blacklist due to links to unauthorized gambling sites. Both sites managed to avoid a permanent shutdown order by cutting ties to unapproved gambling operators.
Russia’s anti-online campaign is being pursued on multiple fronts. Last week, the deputy chairman of the state Duma’s committee on constitutional legislation asked both Roskomnadzor and the state prosecutor for a legal opinion of mobile telecom firms’ involvement in unauthorized gambling financial transactions.
Last week also brought word that Roskomnadzor had proposed amending Russia’s gambling law to target online gambling affiliates and any other site that offered advice via photo, video, audio or text that informed Russian citizens how to deposit funds with unauthorized gambling sites.
Russia’s regulated online sports betting regime requires licensed operators to process all payments through a centralized hub so that the authorities can monitor the goings-on. Russia’s First SRO bookmakers association has launched its TSUPIS payment system which uses the Mobilnaya karta money transfer service while a rival bookies group is planning to use Qiwi for its as yet unlaunched TSUPIS.
Since October 2015, when Roskomnadzor was given the authority to take action against unauthorized gambling sites, its online blacklist has added thousands of illicit domains associated with both domestic and international gambling operators.
Many of the blocked domains include sites associated with the few Russian bookmakers that have so far received authorization to offer online sports betting – Liga Stavok, 888.ru, Winline and (most recently) 1xbet – as Russian law restricts these sites to a single legal domain, meaning their unapproved betting options (casino, poker, etc.) are as unwelcome as PokerStars.