Geopolitics May Halt Russian iPoker Legalization

Geopolitics May Prevent Russian iPoker LegalizationAfter five years of trying to prevent online poker from taking root inside the country, the Russian Federation recently signaled an about turn in its negative stance and seemed ready to push ahead with opening its market of 143 million people to the rest of the world. Following the escalating situation inside Ukraine, however, it now seems unlikely the new gambling bill will pass in its present form any time soon.
In recent times, Russian has been looking to diversify its economy away from the energy sector, which provides the state with half its federal budget, and according to a report iPoker has the potential to add a further $146 million in revenues to the country’s finances. At a government ministries meeting last month, legislators subsequently agreed that opening the market to Western iGaming companies was in Russia’s best interests, but as sanctions imposed by the same Western countries begins to disrupt the Russian economy, its potential online poker industry now appears destined to be held hostage to the geopolitics of the conflict.
A more likely scenario to occur in the Russian parliament is that legislators limit the participation of online companies to just those Russian businesses already granted gambling licenses to operate from one of the country’s five established gambling zones.
Nevertheless, questions still remain whether any suitable Russian operators exists which could successfully undertake such a task, with other analysts suggesting ex-Soviet Republic, Georgia, may provide Russia with the best option.  Currently, the country located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia has two poker sites on PokerScout’s ‘Online Poker Traffic Report,’ including Adjarabet in 10th place (1,000 cash game players), and Europe-Bet in 22nd place (350 players).
Like the current conflict in Ukraine, however, Georgia, too, has hostile relations with Russia which invaded the country in 2008 and has occupied the northern region of South Ossetia ever since. That “frozen conflict” situation is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, either, and so for the moment it seems an open, regulated Russian online poker industry will remain a pipe dream for some time to come.

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

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