Poker is officially a sport in Ukraine starting 2018

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It is official, Ukraine’s lawmakers decided that poker is a sport! Poker is now listed in Ukraine’s Register of Recognized Sports, making the way for the gamblers there to be able to enjoy the game once again.

Gambling was prohibited and made illegal in 2009 after a fire in a gambling hall from Dnipropetrovsk killed 9 people in May of the same year. It used to be considered different from other forms of gambling, such as Roulette, Blackjack or slots, but in 2010, the country’s justice minister redefined poker as gambling.

Poker clubs gathered together under the same goal, following the decision and took their case to the Supreme Court. In 2013, the court reviewed the case and sided with the clubs. But the decision was only applied to tournament Poker, normal Poker games were still off the table.

Online Poker operators were forced to either leave the country either face the charges. Although gambling was considered illegal, more than 500 land and online casino operators have been exposed since 2009.

When Russia and Ukraine began their dispute over the Crimean region in 2014, gambling laws became unimportant and clubs had virtual free reign to hold cash even if any activity such as was still technically illegal.

For Poker to be recognized is just the first step. Now that it has been accepted as a sport, what’s next is the introduction of new regulations of the space. It is unknown when these regulations will be decided, but the fact it has been declared to be a sport is for sure a step in the right direction.

The announcement was kept low. If it wasn’t for a document published by the Ministry of Youth and Sport, in which Poker was authorized as an actual sport, most may not have been aware of the change.

Now, about playing Poker online. The government claims that the new laws apply to both land establishments and online casinos. Although this game was turned legal by the courts though, there are no online Poker sites in Ukraine. Luckily, there are gambling providers located outside the country which offer the possibility of gambling in the Ukrainian language. It’s curious if any Ukrainian operators will look to set up Poker tables within the country, but probably not many will attempt to do it right after the law passed.

Ukraine is an important and active presence in the poker community. Eugene Katchalov and Yevgeniy Timoshenko are just two of the country’s most appreciated players worldwide.