Ukraine exempts poker from anti-gambling laws

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Ukrainian government has re-inducted poker into the list of national sports, thereby exempting it from the purview of anti-gambling legislation. In the the newly published Register of Recognized Sports from the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Ukraine, in Document 3780, Poker is one  of the entries. Poker was removed from the list of bnational sports eight years ago. Till then poker had been treated as a sport, unlike other gambling games like blackjack, roulette and slots. In 2010, the Justice Minister removed poker from the list.

Although local clubs have been able to host tournaments, cash games remained illegal and online operators were forced to relocate their servers outside of the country to avoid prosecution. By 2016, the country’s largest network, iPoker, exited the Ukraine as part of its movement away from undefined and unregulated markets.

But with the government reclassifying poker as a sport, regulation could be forthcoming. At this stage, the definition “poker sport” only means that the game isn’t lumped in with other forms of gambling and, therefore, not subject to the 2009 law.

However, this could be the first step towards introducing new legislation.

As a country, Ukraine is one of the more active in the Eastern European region. The International federation of Matchpoker has a Ukrainian division, while the likes of Eugene Katchalov and Yevgeniy Timoshenko are among the country’s leading money winners.

Although it’s too early to say the poker has been given the greenlight to flourish, it’s status as a sport will at least shield it from Ukraine’s anti-gambling stance.