PokerStars Suspends Online Poker Operations in Russia
One of the world’s leading online poker operators PokerStars has joined a growing list of international companies who have suspended all operations in Russia.
The exit from the Russian market comes in response to Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, which have been dubbed by much of the world as aggression and war, but are still referred to by the Russian authorities as a “special military operation.”
The seizure of all operations in Russia was announced by PokerStars in a short Tweet on March 9, which did not contain much information or details.
Important update: we are suspending all our services in Russia.
— PokerStars (@PokerStars) March 9, 2022
PokerStars have followed international giants such as General Motors, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and others in exiting the Russian market.
While all the companies listed here stand to lose a small fortune with this move, they have united around the idea of helping the people of Ukraine and trying to stop the bloodshed as quickly as possible.
PokerStars in Russia
Ever since the Black Friday and PokerStars’ exit from the US market, Russia has been one of the biggest contributors to the global PokerStars player pool, along with the likes of Brazil and Germany.
The move to seize all operations in Russia will have a great impact on the PokerStars ecosystem, with thousands of regular players no longer having access to the platform.
Back in November 2021, PokerStars was forced to launch Pokerstarsinsochi.com, a unique domain for Russian players, who were only permitted to play through Russian-licensed poker sites.
The launch of the Sochi domain was just a technicality, though, as Russian players remained a part of the global player pool and could compete in all the tournaments and cash games across the platform.
Now, the Russian domain has been temporarily frozen and it remains to be seen for how long Russian players will not have access to their accounts.
Cancel Culture at Work?
Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, there has been some debate as to how the world should respond to it.
While the sanctions against the Russian president Vladimir Putin and his closest political and economic allies which were imposed by various governments certainly seem like a fair response, many of the moves made by private companies impact Russian people more than their government.
Just days ago, McDonald’s closed more than 850 of its restaurants across Russia, leaving many Russians out of work and denying others from the restaurants’ services.
Many players inside Russia, and those beyond it, have called the PokerStars exit from the Russian market an example of the cancel culture, which is definitely at work in some part during this crisis.
While most reports seem to support the idea that the general Russian population does not support the war in Ukraine, the world seems united in punishing Russian people for Putin’s mistakes.
And while one portion of the poker community calls for moderation, others are inviting PokerStars to ban players from Belarus as well, due to the country’s involvement in the war.
What’s Really Happening in Ukraine?
While PokerStars’ exit from the Russian market may be a bit harsh on Russian players themselves, the general idea of supporting the people of Ukraine during the crisis is definitely praiseworthy.
While the Russian government keeps talking about a “special military operation” whose only target is the demilitarization of Ukraine, reports in global media and on social platforms tell a very different story.
With every passing day, new civilian casualties are reported, as millions of people flee their hometowns and seek refuge in other European countries.
The joint effort by companies such as PokerStars, GM, Toyota, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola may end up being exactly what it takes to help Russian people realize the mistakes of their government and affect change from within the Russian borders.