Russians hoping that they might get an easier shot at gambling had a rude awakening as President Dmitry Medvedev approved stringent changes to the country’s rules. Introduced as an early Christmas gift back in December, the bill means that players and operators will both have to watch their backs or face being chucked in the Gulag for up to six years.
The harshest penalties come for anyone found to be operating an online casino. According to Vostok Report, administrative fines for setting up and operating online casinos could run to 1milllion rubles (€25,000). The plans are also reported to extend to the mobile gambling industry where many were able to get their hands on gambling related fun. Not any more! The changes are aimed specifically at the online casino business and the Internet café safe havens that have been cropping up all over the nation.
Ukraine is one country that is slowly capitalizing on Russia’s animosity towards the gaming industry. The one-time USSR state has seen the number of live poker events increase as hotels and former-casino operators exploit a loophole in the country’s gambling laws. It means that live poker events, such as the Russian Poker Tour, taking place in locations such as Odessa and Kiev. They’re no small fry either. The PokerStars sponsored Russian Poker Series has a $1million guarantee on the table and includes a $2,500 buy-in main event. Nothing like capitalizing on an opportunity.
The reason that events are able to take place across the border is that tournament poker was recognized by the country as a sport. It means that it escapes the overall ban on gambling set out in July 2009 and that Ukrainians can gamble legally. A little bit at least.