July 2, 2009 (CAP Newswire) – Russia’s big news this week that it is following through with a dramatic shutdown of almost every casino in the nation has struck many observers as even more harsh than the United States’ recent Internet censorship difficulties. And, indeed, since Russia’s ban includes land-based casinos as well as online gambling centers, their ban is indeed much more wide-reaching.

But there is one important difference: In Russia, unlike the U.S., poker is classified as a sport, not a game of chance. Therefore, it’s not likely to be affected by the gambling ban (at least, not right away). Furthermore, given that Russian gamblers are suddenly without the option to go to their favorite casinos, it’s very likely that many will now flock to poker — on land, and on the Internet.  

So, expect to see a big boom in Russian online poker players. Affiliates looking for new markets to enter may want to start thinking seriously about offering Russian-language alternatives. This is a market that’s likely to grow at an incredible rate.

(Russia’s gambling ban doesn’t directly shut down all online casinos; there are loopholes that will likely be exploited. However, many online operators are likely to shut down rather than risk being penalized.)

For more from the Associated Press on the topic, please click here.

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