Russia Considers Legalizing Online Poker

Published July 7, 2014 by Elana K

Russia Considers Legalizing Online Poker

Russian government requests reports from three ministries outlining the possibility of legalizing online poker.

There have been a number of reports from Russia that the country is considering legalizing online poker within its borders. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has asked the Ministries of Finance, Economic Development and Justice to review the possibility of legalization and to figure out exactly what kind of legislation would be necessary to make it happen.

The ministries are due to report back to Mr. Shuvalov on July 21, 2014, and their reports will only include information on online poker gambling, not any other kind. Large poker operators such as PokerStars and 888poker would benefit vastly from the introduction of online poker into Russia.

Russia’s Change of Heart

This new willingness on the part of Russia to even entertain the thought of legalizing online poker comes following an appeal of the President of the Poker Union, Kakha Kakhiani, to the Finance Ministry. Kakhiani presented a history of successful performances of Russian players in international poker tournaments, and argued that adding an online element could only benefit the country.

Poker Is Not Gambling

In 2013, Valery Fyodorov, the Director General of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, reported that Russians do not actually consider poker a gambling activity. Polls showed that 42% of Russians think that poker is an intellectual game and 85% of online users consider it intellectual as well. Only 25% of those polled think otherwise. Additionally, 52% of those polled said that people should have the right to play online poker, while only 24% were against it.

Of course, the Russian government is not known for being swayed by popular opinion. Once Mr. Shuvalov receives the reports from the three ministries, it is unclear how he will continue forward. One thing is certain though: if Russia does, in fact, pass legislation legalizing online poker, the international poker market will be expanded significantly.

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