Russia to consider legalising online poker

Reports out of Russian claim that online poker could soon be legalised in the country, First Deputy Primie Minister Igor Shuvalov has told his Ministry of Finance, the Ministry for Economic Development and the Ministry of Justice to review the possibility and legislation needed to allow online poker only to be legalised in the country.

The ministries involved have been given till the 21st July to report back to Mr Shuvalov on moving forward with the idea of poker only gambling.

The position change on legalising online poker is believed to have come about after the President of the Poker union Kakha Kakhiani had appealed to the Finance Ministry and the Government following the successful performance of Russian players in international poker tournaments.

In October 2013, the Director General of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center Valery Fyodorov said that Russians do not tend to associate poker with other gambling activities. Polls indicate that 42% of Russians agree that poker is an intellectual game while 25% disagreed. Some 85% of online users believe that poker is intellectual. Generally, as many as 52% respondents said that people should have the right to play poker while 24% were against it. The right to play poker is supported by 84% of online users.

The change of heart towards poker would certainly not include any online casino games, just poker only but the introduction of online poker in Russia would boost the businesses of the large online poker operators such as PokerStars and 888poker.

It is not understood when new legislation would be introduced once the ministries have reported back to Mr Shuvalov.

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