Russia Clamps Down on Payment Processing Companies

As Russia forges ahead with its plan to regulate sports betting by the end of the year, the country’s media regulator Roskomnadzor (photo) has started clamping down on unlicensed iGambling operators, and the companies which have continued to process their transactions. Against this backdrop, the latest firms to receive cease and desist letters includes Skrill and QIWI, who were subsequently given just 24-hours to remove their links and services from other gambling sites already blacklisted by the regulator.
Back in September 2015, Roskomnadzor ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block unregulated internet gambling websites from offering their services within the country of 143.5 million people, with the list of 6,000 sites including such well-known brands as PokerStars and William Hill.
To show the extent to which Roskomnadzor is prepared to go in order to clear the way for Russia’s own regulated online gambling industry, the Amazon Cloud service was recently blocked for featuring an ad promoting 888Poker. Commenting at the time, Sergei Grebennikov, head of the Russian Public Centre for Internet Technology, said:
“Amazon does not care about the customer, placing content there. Roskomnadzor performs a control function, it has to block a site that violates the law of Russia.”
Following the blocking of both Skrill and QIWI, the only payment processor currently permitted to continue its service is Russian firm TSUPIS, which launched in February of this year. Other FinTec firms are expected to also receive cease and desist orders over the next few weeks, and as Anton Rozhkovsky, Chairman of the TSUPIS Board of Directors, explains:
“This is the first case in Russia, where not just the operators of gambling sites have been blocked but also the domain names of well-known payment systems, which freely give Russian citizens the opportunity to transfer funds to participate in gambling. This is a very important step in the fight against illegal gambling on the Internet, which we in TSUPIS certainly welcome.”

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