Friday January 22,2016 : IS RUSSIA ABOUT TO LEGALISE ONLINE POKER?
Some believe that a combination of an economy under siege and a need for more tax revenues could see a change in government attitudes.
The publication Business Insider published a speculative article this week suggesting that the Russian government is about to execute a volte face on its stand that online poker is unlawful.
Written by academic and author Robert Carmona-Borjas, the article claims that the Russian government is seriously considering the legalization of online poker in the near future as a game of skill in order to raise significant tax revenues.
He is supported in his view by legal expert Alexander Zakondyrin, who claims that Russians constitute as much as 8.4 percent of the total players on PokerStars, and that 16 percent of Russia's massive population enjoy playing the game.
“Russians play poker, but their money goes abroad,” Zakondyrin observes, adding that the Russian economy is at a crisis point and needs tax revenues due to low oil prices, high defence expenditure, and the impact of sanctions following the confrontation with the West over Ukraine.
The legal expert notes that there are many bureaucratic and logistical hurdles to overcome before legalization is achieved, and that conditions imposed by the government will probably include full disclosure by players and the location of servers on Russian soil.
Zakondyrin remains optimistic, however, commenting:
“In my opinion, conceptually the decision to legalize online poker has been already made by the Russian government.”