Only 3 banks blocking foreign online transactions

Three major Russian banks – Sberbank, VTB and Tinkoff bank – have confirmed that they are observing new legislation prohibiting banks from processing transactions for foreign bookmakers, casinos and totes.

But other banks don’t appear to be following their lead, taking a wait-and-see approach in the absence of a blacklist of all illegal gambling resources. In theory, all foreign online casinos, bookmakers and lotteries based outside of Russia and providing services to Russian citizens online are deemed illegal in Russia.

The legislation originally came into force on 26 May, 2018, but the first complaints from Russian customers about their failure to top up their accounts in foreign online casinos were recorded only in late October.

In a comment to Russian daily Kommersant, Sberbank representatives did not specify why the limitations started working only recently, but they noted that the bank doesn’t limit transactions within Russia.

Corporate law attorney Andrei Gusev explained that banks’ lack of action in terms of blocking such transactions is because the Federal Tax Service has not yet posted a list of illegal gambling websites.

Gusev says that even if the blacklist is introduced, Russian punters will look for alternative ways to place bets abroad by either using intermediaries or resorting to cryptocurrencies – whose regulation is still a grey area in Russia – in trans-border payments.