Poker Loses Its Sport Status In Russia

Poker has officially been stripped of its sports status inside Russia after the government further clamped down on its efforts to ban casinos throughout the country and restrict gambling to four areas exclusively.
Poker’s status as a sport meant certain casinos could exploit a loophole in the law and continue to operate as card halls but the government has now firmly put its foot down with Vitaly Mutko, minister of sports, tourism and youth politics, announcing that “poker doesn’t exist as a sport.”
On the ministry website on Monday no room for doubt was left when Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika posted a decree ordering their officers to “decisively clamp down on illegal gambling activity, including that done on the Internet, through poker clubs, fruit machines, etc.”
Vitaly Mutko, is now saying that including poker in Russia’s official list of sports was a clear violation of the law because: “The decision to include poker on the sports register was supposed to be made by a special ministerial commission, not by the administration of the Russian Sports Agency. In addition, the decision was supposed to be registered in the Justice Ministry, which did not happen,”
Dmitry Lesnoy, the president of Russia’s Sports Federation exclaimed: “We are very sorry to lose our image in the eyes of the international poker community that was hoping to see the European Poker Tournament in Moscow this year. It will be a great pity for us if Russian poker stars move abroad to play under the flags of other countries. But we have to accept the inevitable,”
The fate of the European Poker Tournament which was expected to be held in Moscow this August is now unclear. This however is unlikely to concern Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who has continued with his countrywide ban on what he considers gambling and said he will clamp down on any attempts to disguise gambling as other activities. At present the only gambling activity allowed in Russia is bookmaking but it seems even this may not be safe as the Russian parliament are now considering draft laws to severely restrict this too.

Other news:   Multi-state online poker compact bill introduced in Pennsylvania

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