International edition
June 14, 2021

After court ruling

Russian ISPs could clamp down on gambling websites

(Russia).- The Russian Supreme Court recently made a ruling that seems to have possible ramifications for the online poker industry. According to the Moscow Times, high-ranking interpreters of the law there essentially think an Internet Service Provider (ISP) allowing access to a gambling website, or any other content deemed to be illegal, is equivalent, under the law, to running the gambling website itself.

T

hus, blocking access to “inappropriate” sites is a precautionary measure to avoid falling into hot water and potentially losing the ability to be in the Internet service business. There has already been some self-censorship on behalf of web service providers (unrelated to gambling), but according to the Moscow Times, that could increase in the future.

It’s completely unclear if a firm like PokerStars would fall under the scope of this potential trend, as poker is a game of skill and generally not considered gambling when compared to an online slot, for example. There are too many unanswered questions right now. With that said, there has been some concern among the poker community.

According to reaction from posters on the TwoPlusTwo poker forums, Russia is a global supplier of fish - meaning that a lot of online poker’s lesser-skilled players come from the country, which has a population of about 142 million. There are incredible players from there as well, such as Maxim Lykov and Alex Kostritsyn, just to name a couple.

The scary news for some of the game’s poker pros comes about 20 months after American poker players were kicked off of PokerStars after the company was accused of a slew of federal crimes. PokerStars settled its case in July without admitting any wrongdoing. Online poker, both for the operator and the serious player, benefits from greater liquidity - in other words, more games running and opponents to chose from. Having the global player pool fragmented even further is disturbing for poker advocates.

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