One of the realities of the online poker world is that some countries have legislated that their citizens can only play on sites that cater to their country. This is called “ring fencing,” or the government ensuring that they will be receiving the appropriate revenues from the site in question. The latest country to be affected by this is Russia and it deals with PokerStars.
November 2 is Cutoff Date for Russians
The changeover will begin for Russian players on November 2. At that point, Russian players will no longer be able to access their accounts through the PokerStars international client. They will be directed to download and install the Russian version of PokerStars, pokerstarsinsochi.com. While it is not stated, this is a direct result of the Russian regulations regarding gaming in general and online gaming in particular in that it must come from one of four regions that have been designated as “gaming zones” in the country; one of those areas is Sochi.
The good news for Russian players is that they should not lose any of their information or, more importantly, their bankroll. This will all transfer over, according to PokerStars support, but other things such as notes on players and other settings might be a little more complicated in its transfer. It is suggested that players contact PokerStars support for assistance on this matter.
Russia Latest to “Ring Fence” Players
For approximately the last decade, many countries have gone the route of separating their players away from the rest of the world. Such “ring fencing” has become common for the purposes of each country ensuring that the tax revenues from play on online gaming and poker sites is coming to the country. Russia is far from the first nation to take up this path.
In 2010, France became the first nation to segregate its players from the rest of the world, passing regulations that required any online gaming operation or poker room to have a dedicated “dot France (fr)” site set up for only French players. They also required that separate servers had to be dedicated to this effort, in effect forcing any online operation to set up shop in France to be able to do business.
France was followed by several other European nations. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, and others also began to enforce strict “ring fence” regulations to segregate their players away from the international community. Australia did not even approach a “ring fence” idea, instead simply banning offshore operations and only allowing their citizens to play on officially licensed Australian operations.
With this “ring fencing” came a decline in revenues, however. There was a rapid decline in the number of players in France on the regulated (and taxed) sites, with many instead preferring to play on unlicensed sites. This forced France and Spain to eventually return to the international fold, although other countries continue to stay with their country-specific operations.
Whether the Russian decision will be successful or not will have no effect on what the Russian government decides to do with online gambling. The administration of President Vladimir Putin has long been anti-online gaming, with the regulations regarding the “gaming zones” and crackdown regarding online gaming having been long in the works (since 2009).