With the war in Ukraine now almost in its third week, another online poker operator announced Monday that it was leaving the country. 888poker won’t be available to players in Russia as of Tuesday, leaving the country’s players fewer options.
“All 888poker operations in Russia will be suspended starting March 15th until further notice,” the company noted on Twitter.
Exodus of online poker operators
Partypoker became the first operator to announce its exit from Russia in February even before the country invaded Ukraine. Party officials cited regulatory concerns for closing up shop in Russia.
PokerStars then made the move last week with 888poker now following as well. Stars also canceled the PokerStars Live European Poker Tour that was scheduled for March in Sochi.
The iPoker Network appears to have left Russia before the current conflict began as well.
GGPoker appears to be operating in the market as of Tuesday. Other live poker tours have also dialed back events in the country with outfits like the World Poker Tour not scheduling events in the country.
Slowdown in traffic
Russia was one of the largest markets for online poker operators. The country has seen major gains for the game in recent years, both in live tournaments and online.
With the shutdowns, operators have seen some traffic hits. PokerStars saw its seven-day average drop to 4,400 players as of Tuesday, according to Online Poker Report. That’s a dip of about 15% the usual number.
Most operators have seen the market as a gray market. The country officially outlaws live gambling except in four regions, including Sochi.
However, online gaming has been more murky with most major operators still allowing Russian players until now. Stars attempted to work on the regulated side of the market, reaching a deal with Casino Sochi to co-brand a poker client.
Following the events in Ukraine
Like many around the world, poker players have been following the war in Ukraine as it plays out on television and social media.
Many were captivated by Eugene Katchalov’s plight to get his family out of the country as Russia invaded. He Tweeted his family’s escape and news of events on the ground during the early days of the invasion.
Many players have followed the events and shared some news from the war. Daniel Negreanu was particularly moved by the words of a Russian soldier.
This is powerful. If you are in Russia and can see this please watch it. https://t.co/s7XN620xmh
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) March 7, 2022
Katchalov continues sharing insight from Ukraine. He noted that Leon Tsoukernik, owner of King’s Casino in Czech Republic, has helped in settling some of his family members.
Tsoukernik, whose property hosts the annual World Series of Poker Europe, also set up facilities for up to 500 refugees. Those efforts received some accolades among poker players.
Leon is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. If there is anyone who would go above and beyond for complete strangers, it’s him. Thank you Leon! https://t.co/Em5GMlCxvO
— Ryan Riess (@RyanRiess1) March 13, 2022