Russian Online Poker Prospects Improve

Gambling is banned in Russia outside of a select number of gambling zones spread out across the vast country. The restrictive online gambling environment in Russia may soon be about to change, however, as this month a Russian gambling operator, Liga Stavok, said that it had now secured the country’s first ever legal online betting license. The news coincides with an announcement that a brand new payment processing system, TSUPIS, will be instituted to ensure all gambling payments are recorded, and therefore taxed accordingly.
There are indications that the future of poker in Russia may also soon see better days, as a year-and-a-half ago Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov (photo), requested that two governmental bodies, namely the Economic Development and the Justice Ministry, collaborate on producing a report on how to best go about legalizing, regulating and taxing internet poker.
The game of poker enjoys a huge following amongst Russians, with a recent poll showing that around 20% of adults have contravened the law by playing the game, and that at least 8% of PokerStars customers hail from Russia. Regulating the game therefore presents a lucrative taxation opportunity for the country’s ailing coffers, and amongst supporters for a drastic overhaul of Russia’s online poker laws is the influential businessman, and politician, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is also President of the “World Chess Federation”. As he explained recently:
“There are no reasons that it should be hidden and illegal.. I am working together with the government in order to allow online poker to become an intellectual sport in Russia.. I support the idea that the sport of poker should be a member of IMSA. It is a sport which requires an intellect and intelligence, psychological training. I am in talks with various poker associations about it.”
Ilyumzhinov’s comments are supported by numerous scientific studies which have shown that those players who study the game diligently and hone their skills are most likely to profit from the game. In spite of the research, however, formidable challenges still have to be overcome before poker is accepted as a mind sport. In the meantime, the skill versus chance question continues to be debated in court rooms across the world, and in the US legislators at a federal and state level continue to debate both sides of the argument.

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