Sberbank, a state-owned bank, issued a statement in which it confirmed plans to comply with the new law. The bill, known officially as Federal Law 224, states that any payments via debit/credit card in the favour of foreign institutions involved in gambling are prohibited. However, payments made by bank cards to Russia-based gambling facilities will not be affected.
Federal Law 224
Vladimir Putin signed the law back in November 2017. It was expected to come into force by May 2018 but was delayed until Sberbank released an official statement in October of this year. Several Russian online poker players confirmed that the law had recently come into use after receiving text messages explaining that their transactions had been declined after attempting to top up their online casino accounts.
Now that Federal Law 224 has been fully implemented, Russian gaming fans have begun to notice that some of the biggest online casino platforms in the world have now been blacklisted. In total, the number of prohibited sites is well into the thousands. Roskomnadzor, which is one of the largest telecoms companies in Russia, announced that in 2018 it had added over 76,000 domains to its official blacklist – although it is not certain how many of these are online casino sites.
Why Russia Is Cracking Down
When Russian citizens gamble via offshore platforms, the government is unable to tax any transactions. Prior to the new legislation, it was estimated that somewhere in the region of 70% of Russian gamblers avoided taxes by using offshore casino sites.
However, critics of the decision to blacklist offshore casinos claimed that the strict guidelines currently in place were what had driven so many players to online casino sites based outside of the jurisdiction of the country. It is thought that the Russian government is now looking at ways to encourage online gambling within the confines of the country instead.