Russian news website RBC.ru has reported that the Russian Ministry of Finance has just drafted a bill aimed at blocking transactions between local players and offshore based online gambler operators.
Sound familiar? The United States went down a similar road enacting (in 2006) and implementing (in 2010) their UIGEA law that sought to do the same thing.
One of UIGEA’s main failings was the fact that it placed the burden of not only blocking, but also identifying what an ‘unlawful online gambling’ transaction is, on the payment providers. As a result US banks, credit card companies and other payment processors complained that compliance with the law would prove an administrative nightmare.
What it did successfully do, is convince almost all of the world’s largest Internet gambling operators to withdraw from the US market in light of the legislation’s clear intent.
It looks like Russian authorities plan to offer a little more assistance to payment providers than the Americans did. Should the bill pass into law, the idea is that the Federal Task Service will identify and list all operators it believes to be engaging in illegal activity within the country, and pass this list on to financial institutions to do their blocking thing.
Russian authorities estimate that players from Russia wager almost $3 billion annually with offshore operators. This estimate conflicts considerably with figures put together by H2 Gambling Capital in their estimates of the world’s biggest gambling countries. According to H2, Russians staked in total, on all forms of gambling, less than $2.3 billion (ie online would be considerably less again).
But then, as we know, 83.6% of all statistics are made up.