With New Poker Classification, Ukraine Appears Ready to Leave Chaos Behind

Published September 12, 2018 by Lee R

With New Poker Classification, Ukraine Appears Ready to Leave Chaos Behind

Poker is now reclassified as sport, legitimizing a game of chance in uncertain Ukraine.

The Ukraine region has come down on the popular debate of chance versus sport to call poker a sport, and now has the certification to prove it.  

Sporting List

Poker has joined the list of Ukraine’s Register of Recognized Sports, exempting poker from anti-gambling laws in the country. Now comes the legislation.

This reverses the government decision eight years ago to remove poker from its list of national sports, putting Ukraine on the list of illegal gambling activities that the other side of this black and white debate holds.  

Appeal of Original Decision

Poker clubs banded together following the decision and took their case to the Supreme Court. The court reviewed the case in 2013 and sided with the clubs, adding that its decision only pertained to tournament poker—routine poker games were still off the table.

Crimean War

More jurisdictional intrigue followed the following year when the border dispute erupted between the Ukraine and Russia regarding the “special gambling zone” Crimean region, rendering the bulk of existing gambling laws irrelevant to give poker clubs veritable free reign on unlicenced cash games.

Further, pre-existing licensed online poker operators such as iPoker were forced to flee the country or face prosecution. The iPoker Network took with it its 29 skins which including at the time William Hill, Betfair and Ladbrokes – withdrawal came at a time of upheaval in Crimea, one of the country’s special gambling zones.


The new recognition of poker as a sport is seen as the first step in a restoration of order in the Ukraine. Next would be the introduction of new regulation of the poker space, with the timing of their arrival still to be surmised.  

Current Operators

As far as current operators in Ukraine, Matchpoker maintains a division in the country with members all-time money list leader Eugene Katchalov ($9.2 mil) and Yevgeniy Timoshenko being the two premier faces of that competition, which also includes Oleksi Khoroshenin and Artem Metalidi, who is fresh off an eighth place finish in the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event that netted $1.25 million.


Clearly, the Ukraine has a lot to gain from legitimizing poker as well as all games of chance, and a considerable ways to go to accomplish this as well. Time will tell how efficiently things fall back into place, but it certainly looks as if they can.

Yes! I want to know about exclusive bonuses, promotions, and news.