Opinions Split as PokerStars Freezes Out Russian Players

Law & Politics

Yesterday’s announcement that PokerStars has suspended its services in Russia has provoked a mixed response from the community.

The community is split following the announcement that PokerStars has stopped all services in Russia due to the war in Ukraine. (Image: PokerStarsSochi.net)

A tweet published on PokerStars’ official Twitter account last night confirmed that, due to the attacks on Ukraine, the poker site was closing its virtual doors in Russia.

The announcement followed the recent decision to cancel EPT Sochi. It also follows similar sanctions on Russia by major corporations and the international banking industry.

War footing, or exercise in regulatory compliance?

PokerStars had altered its services in Russia before the invasion of Ukraine. Russian gambling laws required PokerStars to funnel players through an onshore site linked to Casino Sochi instead of its dot.eu platform.

The change was little more than an exercise in regulatory compliance as Russians can still compete with international players. That was until yesterday’s decision to stop all services in Russia.

PokerStars told Barry Carter, editor of PokerStrategy, that players need not worry and that all funds were safe in segregated accounts.

They also confirmed that players will receive 100% of their money back once the “situation changes” and PokerStars resumes its services in Russia.

CardsChat Forum:

Poker players react

PokerStars’ reaction to the Russian attacks on Ukraine falls in line with corporations around the world. Popular brands such as Adidas, Ikea, McDonald’s, and Netflix have all stopped their services in Russia.

Poker players reacting to yesterday’s news have applauded PokerStars for following suit and called on other operators to do the same.

Hope others will join you, @partycasino @LeoVegasUK @mrgreencasino @32Red @Videoslotscom @SkyBet @bet365 @WillHillVegas

— 6 ix (@6ix75749026) March 10, 2022

No expert, but I’d have though there is also a very real risk that the execs of @PokerStars breach sanctions by allowing money to transfer. Not sure I’d be up for jail time so Russians can play poker

— Leadbone (@Leadbone1) March 9, 2022


Others questioned whether countries currently helping Russian President Vladimir Putin, such as Belarus, would face similar disruption.

A representative for PokerStars said that the company was “only” suspending its services in Russia at this time.

Players split on reaction to Russian attacks

The decision to block Russians from accessing PokerStars has also drawn criticism from members of the community. Although there has been facetious comments about Putin missing out on the next $3.30 Bounty Builder, there were some serious comments about the impact on innocent Russians.

Regular people in Russia just want to live regular lives, this mass cancelation of all Russians is crazy

— Ryan Kesler (@RyanKesler14) March 9, 2022

I’m totally anti war and pro #Ukraine sovereignty, but this decision is just wrong. Wrong for the regs in Russia that has nothing to do w this war and mostly wrong for the rest of the world players that will have their tournament fields and guarantees reduced. Bad decision! 😐

— Francisco Sarmento (@Xicuw) March 10, 2022

Keeping politics out of poker is tough at the best of times and the executives at PokerStars were always walking a fine line with their decision.

Although the majority of players seem to support the ban on Russians, others believe it’s an unnecessary move against innocent people. For now though, PokerStars remains inaccessible to anyone in Russia.

Written by

Daniel Smyth

Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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