iPoker Network Quits Ukraine MarketAugust 24, 2016 1:44 pm
On August 15th, the iPoker Network officially exited the Ukrainian market, and has now sent out emails to all affected players instructing them to withdraw their money by the month’s end. Last week, several of the network’s skins, including Gala Casino Poker, Coral Poker and Mansion Poker, also withdrew their products from Russia.
Unlike individual operators such as PokerStars and Bodog, the iPoker Network is home to 29 skins, with its list of brands including major names such as Betfair, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Bet365, and Paddy Power. Up until last week, the iPoker Network had been the biggest poker network in the world, but now it has been overtaken by the Microgaming Poker Network (MPN), which according to PokerScout currently has 850 cash game players over a 7-day period, or 50 more than iPoker.
The iPoker Network’s exit from Russia is easy to understand as the country has actively been targeting unlicensed gambling sites and the companies which process their transactions. Ukraine, on the other hand, has been slower to enact any regulatory changes, although last December the country’s Ministry of Finance did draft legislation designed to regulate internet gambling. While the iPoker Network hasn’t provided any statement as to the reason for its withdrawal, it is believed that it may be in order to put it in good standing with Ukraine if a licensed market does eventually emerge.
Following a fire which broke out and killed 9 people in an eastern Ukrainian casino in 2009, the moral outrage it sparked led to the ‘Gambling Ban Law’ being passed forbidding all gambling operations in the country except the state-run lottery. As a result, all online and offline gambling activities are currently banned in the country of 45 million, but in December 2015 a draft law was introduced which proposes the setting-up of a state-owned National Gambling Operator that would be tasked with organising, regulating and issuing licenses for gambling operators.