Poker and its variants not to be recognised as a Sport in Russia anymore

July 22, 2009

The latest poker news is that a government order has removed the sport status from poker. This has already started creating problems as some former casinos had stayed open due to this ‘sport loophole’ that permitted certain casinos to remain open as card halls when the new harsh gaming restrictions on gambling had been made a while ago. Poker was recognised by the sports agency / ministry back in 2007. This poker sports list included various poker variants such as Omaha, Texas Hold ’Em and Seven Card Stud.

The Russian Federation of Sport Poker announced in a press statement earlier on this week saying things were unclear as to whether amateur poker players would be now playing illegally. In fact, minister of sports, tourism and youth politics, Vitaly Mutko said that poker doesn’t exist as a sport.”

He stated that the poker’s registration as a sport in 2007 was set as invalid, “The decision about accepting a sport into the list should be made by a ministerial commission and not by the leadership of the Federal Fitness and Sports Agency. What’s more, the decision should be registered by the Justice Ministry, which wasn’t done.” Mutko also mentions that the Russian Federation of Sport Poker was originally listed as a non-commercial partnership and not as a noncommercial organization as required by law.

This decision to un-list poker from ‘sports’ was finalised according to the ministry’s website last Friday during the ministerial commission. Poker was specifically mentioned in a joint declaration stating to “decisively clamp down on illegal gambling activity, including that done on the Internet, through poker clubs, fruit machines, etc”, according to interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika.

This ruling was still unclear as to whether private poker games were now illegal and whether playing on the Internet or marketing and promoting poker was still allowed or not. Also, the European Poker Tour tournament that was meant to be held in Moscow this August might have to be cancelled. Ironically enough, the current list of ‘sports’ still includes bridge, which is a card game that also requires players to place stakes.


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