Thursday the Russian media-watchdog, Roskomnadzor put the payment services QIWI and Skrill on the list of banned web sites.
Roskomnadzor is the Russian federal body that oversees all media in the country and compliance with law protecting the confidentiality of processing of personal data.
The said ban occurred because the websites allegedly contained information about opportunities to participate in gambling, as well as, offered electronic payments and the means to transfer cash, to participate in gambling.
This is being considered as Russia’s second large attempt at curbing online gambling, after the introduction of law in July, 2014, requiring all RuNet bookmakers workers to become members of self-regulatory organizations (SROs).
According to the Federal Tax Service (FTS), in Russia there are almost 6,000 points of betting, of which more than a thousand are in Moscow and the region.
Foreign websites with online gaming (bookmakers, poker, casino) have been blocked in the country since 2014.
A Baseless Move
Nikolai Oganezov, vice president of Russian Association of Bookmakers, believes that the data on mass payments by Qiwi to illegal bookmakers is completely unfounded. He said to the Lenta.ru news site:
"This is a major public company, and it will not risk your business reputation. So Qiwi is also interested in the fight against illegal Internet betting "
Addy Crezee, CEO at Investors' Angel and Advisor at Cointelegraph, noted:
“I am personally using QIWI and don’t see any problems with it. I assume that QIWI will solve this problem in the nearest future, because the block was induced by its advertising policy, not because of its main operations cheats.”
On being asked, if this move has anything to do with the introduction of ‘bitrubles’ by QIWI, its own cryptocurrency, earlier this year, he said, “There is no direct relation to that, but of course bitrubles attracted attention and from that moment the big brother is watching. It’s common knowledge that these are people who work, not robots, so of course bitrubles does have its influence and effect.”
He further added, on the regulations by the government: “We can see lots of sites blocked by the Government at the moment, and personally I start to feel sometimes like under the big Wall. Controlling and Centralizing Runet in Roskomnadzor office and blocking popular platforms and sites only damages the Russian internet environment and will highly slow down its development.”
David Mondrus, owner of FreeMasonStore.com, also noted the problem:
“Russian governance is easy. If they can't control it, it's not legal. That is also why I'm skeptical about any positive pronouncements about Crypto from the Kremlin. I find it more interesting that there is a concerted real effort to create blockchain voting in Ukraine.”