Photo: Sergey Konkov / TASS
Banks forbidden to transfer money to the Russians to foreign companies and individuals seen in the organization of gambling is contrary to Russian law. The black list will be assigned to FNS
The authorities are beginning to struggle with the online casinos and lotteries held by the Russian legislation: banks and payment agents under threat of punishment to prohibit the transfer to the address of the organizers the money of the Russians. The bill of the Ministry of Finance on Monday, February 6, approved the government Commission on legislative activities, told RBK two participants of the meeting (government announced).
Discussion of the bill at a government meeting is expected on February 16, knows one of the interlocutors RBC. Press Secretary of the head of the government Natalia Timakova has not yet responded to the question RBC.
Although gambling online has been prohibited by Federal law in 2006, and in 2014 Roskomnadzor puts online casino in the register of banned sites, users for the game can not be punished, and to close many such venues, it is impossible — their operators are registered in offshore zones. The shadow market turnover of online casinos in Russia may be estimated as at least $3 billion, says RBC analyst GK “ALOR” Alexei Antonov. Often through virtual casinos laundered money of dubious origin, told RBC employees compliance services to several Russian banks.
Russian and foreign companies and individual entrepreneurs and physical persons, including foreigners, which the Russians translated, transferred or may transfer money for gambling will be included in a special black list — they will maintain the Federal tax service (FNS), the bill and the explanatory notes thereto (have RBC). Black lists will be published and communicated to the banks and all payment agents. Those will have to deny the Russians in the money transfers to the address of people and companies from those lists.
Transfer money to companies and individuals from the black list of operators of online casinos will not cash or using credit cards or virtual wallets: under the bill, each payment system operator (that’s Visa, MasterCard, Western Union etc — 43 items in total, as the registry of the Central Bank) will need to make a special code that will indicate that the recipients of the translation organize and conduct illegal gambling.
On the example of Norway
In 2010, the government of Norway, guided by the objectives of combating gambling addiction, has imposed a ban for the country’s banks for payments Norwegian citizens Bank card to address the physical and the online casinos outside Norway. However, the foreign markets, licensed in Gibraltar, Malta, Curacao, great Britain, the Isle of man, etc., are still available for most Norwegian players are taking NOK and allow you to use the option of online payments from Norway, says World Gambling Review.
Central Bank and Ministry of economic development was against
The ban on transfers will not affect the Russian-licensed bookmakers are allowed to accept bets on sports on the Internet (in Russia, only two such offices, reported in July 2016, “Izvestia” with reference to the representative of FNS), as well as companies involved in the organization of national or international lotteries (other in Russia, according to the law can not be, the international lotteries are conducted only on the basis of international treaties of Russia). Self-regulatory organization of Russian bookmakers can inform the authorities about the illegal online casinos and lotteries, so that information about them could be included in the register is prohibited.
The bill was developed on behalf of the President Vladimir Putin on 12 August 2015, said in the explanatory note to it. In the public domain, including on the website of the Kremlin, RBC was unable to locate this order. But in the few public projects of normative acts there are references to these orders of the President “on strengthening responsibility” for the illegal organization of gambling. From the materials on the website of the Ministry of Finance, this bill was submitted to government in late 2015, but in mid-2016 was returned for revision and re-consistent with the Central Bank, FTS, Ministry of economic development and the Ministry of interior.
The bill received a negative opinion from the Central Bank and a negative assessment from the Ministry of economic development, noted in reference to the bill, which was read by RBC. The arguments of the Central Bank and Ministry of economic development in the help is not disclosed. “The Bank of Russia approved the project for adoption in the first reading, while expressing a number of observations that can be taken into account in preparing the draft for the second reading”, — told RBC press service of the Central Bank, explaining that it is for the comments. The Bank of Russia “does not like such sweeping prohibitions,” the banks and so much strain for the control of payments that the regulator must verify and be responsible for it, says employee compliance-service of the Russian Bank from top-30. The Ministry of economic development do initially gave a negative opinion on the project, confirms a source close to the Ministry, but in the process the discussion document the Ministry of Finance has explained his position and his arguments were adopted now, according to the source, disagreements at the bill no. The representative of the Ministry of economic development, representatives of the Ministry of Finance and FNS at the request of RBK not answered.
Roskomnadzor against casino
Roskomnadzor blocks access to web sites online casino on demand on. From November 2015 in the Unified register of banned sites on line gambling made more than 22.2 thousand sites or markers pages, of which 16.9 thousand access in Russia is limited, with other illegal content removed or access was restricted by the hosting provider, told RBC press service of Roskomnadzor. In July 2016 in the Unified register has been enabled payment services Qiwi and Skrill. “On separate pages of the sites of payment systems Qiwi and Skrill posted links to the banned online casinos. In addition, implemented the ability to accept payments for participation in games of chance,” explained the representative of the Governor. Services promptly complied with all the requirements and after a few days were excluded from the registry.
The laundering scheme
Server for online casinos can be placed anywhere and be out of reach of the authorities — as a result, these sites have a host, said RBC is one of the business previously engaged in gambling. In Russia, the online casinos mostly are in close contact with bookmakers, poker rooms, gambling sites, pawnshops and online resources on sports wagering, where can be offered in a veiled form to try to play gambling, says analyst GC “ALOR” Alexei Antonov. Such sites are actively promoted, for example, using peer resources, but also through the sites for online movies. “It is also a widely known method of owning an online casino through offshore license of such States and territories as Curacao, Malta, Gibraltar,” says Antonov.
Director of marketing and PR Storm International (developing a casino in several countries of the world) Lavrenty Gubin believes that a large number of gambling sites online is because their discovery required a minimum investment. “But such sites is incorrect to call the casino, because they don’t have the appropriate license and often are scams,” he says. For example, to receive a license to work in the European Union online casino must pay a fee in the amount of several tens of thousands of euros to obtain the permit of the Commission, which takes into account the sources of financing, a criminal record from the owner, a software that intends to use the Playground, etc. the same Commission is monitoring the pays are online casino winnings and not launder the money, said Gubin.
For banks, the ban on payments to online casinos will be an additional burden, told RBC two members of the compliance services of Russian banks from top-50 in terms of assets. At the same time, the desire of the authorities is clear: money laundering using casino classic scheme, they admit. Questionable money are easy to put into circulation and become either “win” (in collusion with the owners of the site), either in the revenue of the casino. If, prior to the development of computer technology had to go to a casino and to Deposit cash to the cashier, now you can pay for participation in a virtual game through the Internet, terminal or Bank.
Until 2009 the most well known brand on the Russian gaming market was a network of game clubs “the Volcano” (owned by Ritzio Entertainment Group Oleg Boyko), and although the network went off the market after the prohibition of casinos in Russia, the Internet is still there are dozens of playgrounds, exploiting the brand. In recent years Cyprus Ritzio Purchase Limited has submitted and won several complaints to the Centre for arbitration and mediation world intellectual property organization (WIPO), disputing the domain names that are similar to the extent of confusion with trademarks of Ritzio. For example, in November 2016, the WIPO arbitrators found that a Ukrainian Berendey, cutco registered the disputed domain names “for subsequent online business for profit by using the reputation and popularity of the business,” Ritzio. In December 2016 Ritzio won a similar dispute in WIPO from three individuals (citizens of Ukraine, the Seychelles and France), the arbitrators agreed to refer the applicant 13 domain names soneson referring to the brand “Volcano”. Now Ritzio International manages the physical gaming clubs in Germany, Italy, Croatia and Romania.
With the participation of Anton Feinberg