Like many other countries throughout the world, Russia had never officially cracked down on online poker and made the activity illegal. However, all of this has changed recently with the Russian Supreme Court putting more responsibility on ISP’s to block poker sites.
In the past, ISP’s merely had to block the 1,500 sites that were on the Justice Ministry blacklist. And most of the websites on this list were of the extreme political nature. But a new emphasis has been put on banning gambling portals and keeping Russians from cyber betting.
Any ISP that fails to comply with the new online poker restrictions could risk losing their license. Barker & McKenzie lawyer Anton Maltsev explained this matter by saying:
Although internet service providers used to be able to wait until a site appeared on an official blacklist, the ruling implies that they risk going out of business simply by not blocking illegal content – (the ruling implies) that compliance with content restrictions could be a licensing requirement.
The recent actions taken by the Russian government could definitely cause a big hit on the online poker industry. Currently, many of the world’s biggest poker sites like PokerStars and Party Poker have access to the country’s 142 million residents. But all that’s set to change with the pressure being put on ISP’s.
With Russia now becoming the latest nation to place major restrictions on online poker, this is just one more player pool that’s cut off from the rest of the world. Many countries are choosing to regulate their gaming market, which at least gives their residents an option. However, Russia has obviously taken a much different approach. And what’s bad for this country’s residents is that they don’t even have a regulated market to fall back on.
This being said, internet poker is becoming more of a localized game with markets such as Belgium, France, Italy and Spain regulating their action. But this cuts down on some of the high stakes play and game selection since players don’t have access to other player pools.