Just recently, we discussed the widespread popularity of online poker in Russia. In fact, polls show that at least 16 percent of Russians are currently playing online poker. However, this might soon end thanks to budding legislation that would fine certain Russians who play the game.
The bill comes out of the Tatarstan region (pop. 3.8 million), which features a good number of poker players. Rafil Nugumanov, a Tatarstan State Council member who’s sponsoring the legislation, believes that his region has a gambling problem coupled with too many operators.
So his bill calls for anybody caught playing internet poker in 2017 and beyond to pay a fine worth 10k or more Rubles ($150 and up).
More fines would be placed on the families of underage gamblers (5,000 Ruples and up) in addition to landlords who allow online poker on their properties (150,000 Ruples).
One important thing to stress is that the legislation is only being discussed right now. However, if passed, it would definitely hurt the game in Tatarstan. It could even encourage more Russian states to pass anti-online poker bills.
Internet poker is already supposed to be illegal in Russia, but this hasn’t stopped anybody from playing. The current model gives the government the ability to block poker sites. However, these sites can also contest the decision, which weakens the supposed ban.
Considering the game’s illegality, some players have hoped that the government would just regulate online poker. And there has been a fair amount of talk in the Kremlin about doing so. But at this point, none of these talks have resulted in anything concrete.
2016 saw a law proposed that would make poker a skill game in Russia. But again, this legislation has just been sitting in government channels and not moving anywhere.
Assuming Tatarstan does pass their bill, it would hurt the chances of legalizing online poker or at least classifying it as a skill game.