Following other companies’ examples
PokerStars announced on Wednesday that has stop serving the Russian market. No reason was given – the entire of the tweet was “Important update: we are suspending all our services in Russia.” – but it does not take a doctorate-level understanding of world politics to know that it has to do with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The online poker room follows a parade of large companies exiting Russia in the past week or so, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Spotify, and Netflix. General Motors, Nissan, Volkswagen, and Toyota, have also announced they are stopping car exports to Russia for now.
While some companies are almost certainly just following suit so as not to look bad, there are two main reasons businesses are pulling their products and services from Russia: a) a simple message of disapproval to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, and b) an upset citizenry could be bad for Putin. Of course, whether or not the goals will be effective remains to be seen.
The moves by PokerStars and other companies have been cheered in many corners. Even if they prove to be ineffective in budging Putin in the slightest, many people feel that corporations had to do something, that they couldn’t just sit on their hands and conduct business as usual.
Others are upset with PokerStars, feeling it is not fair to punish Russians, most of whom do not approve of what Putin is doing and want the invasion – and the loss of innocent lives – to stop. Punishing the child for the sins of the father, so to speak.
Other PokerStars Russia moves
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, PokerStars decided to postpone EPT Sochi, which was supposed to begin next week. Then, last week, PokerStars announced that the European Poker Tour stop was canceled altogether, saying, “An event will not be held in Sochi until such time that it is safe for staff and players, and appropriate to do so.”
This is not the first time in recent months that PokerStars has withdrawn from the Russian market, though the previous instance was significantly different. In late October 2021, PokerStars announced that Russian players would no longer be able to play on the “dot com” site in order to stay in compliance with the country’s gambling laws.
Fortunately for players in Russia, they could still play on PokerStars and did not lose their accounts or balances. Effective November 2, they were moved over to a new, “ring fenced,” Russia-only online poker room at PokerStarsinSochi.com. The bad news, of course, is that while the Russian market is large, it is not as large as the global market. Plus, it shrinks the “dot com” site for those outside of Russia.