Twitter Reacts as PokerStars Suspends All Services in Russia

  • One Twitter user asked if PokerStars was effectively stealing the money of its Russian players
  • Other users backed the move, one arguing that all other poker operators should follow suit
  • Asked if Belarus was next, PokerStars said the suspension is effective “in only Russia currently”
  • A gambling initiative has raised £192,057 ($252,971) for a charity supporting displaced Ukrainians
Pokerstars logo with cards and dice
Russians can no longer gamble with PokerStars after the Flutter-owned firm announced it was suspending all services in the country amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Flutter subsidiary makes a move

PokerStars has thrown down the gauntlet to its rivals in Russia after announcing it will suspend all services in the country amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

The Flutter Entertainment-owned brand’s decision has drawn polarizing views from the online poker community after its announcement yesterday via Twitter:

Some Twitter users were sympathetic to Russian players. This includes @RyanKesler14, who described the blanket cancelation of all Russians as “crazy,” asserting that “regular people in Russia just want to live regular lives.”

Also in the pro-Russia camp, @leximus7 replied to PokerStars directly. “So, you’re effectively stealing our money?” the Twitter user asked, adding:

Fine by me, it’s not that I’ve got millions, but we’ll remember that.”

Other users applauded PokerStars’ stance, including @DeedsPoker, who stated: “100% agree with companies pulling out or suspending service in Russia.”

PokerStars joins a growing exodus of western brands from the Russian market since the invasion of Ukraine, including Coca-Cola, Netflix, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Pepsi, Spotify, and Starbucks.

What will rivals do?

Entain-owned Partypoker has already pulled out of Russia due to compliance reasons. PokerStars’ other two competitors in Russia, however — Gibraltar-based 888poker, and Dublin-headquartered GGPoker — have up to this point remained tight-lipped about their plans amid the Ukraine conflict.

One Twitter user on Thursday called for PokerStars’ remaining rivals in Russia to follow suit.

Meanwhile, Twitter user @Muttley_1955 asked PokerStars if it would also suspend its services in Russian-allied Belarus.

PokerStars responded, saying the suspension was effective “in only Russia currently,” adding “our priority at this time is ensuring the safety and security of our colleagues. We are actively working with and supporting our people on the ground in Ukraine and Russia.”

PokerStars’ involvement in Russia came via an arrangement with Casino Sochi, located in one of the four areas of the country where gambling is legal. With PokerStars servers hosted on Russian soil, and local players taking part through a dedicated Sochi client, the Flutter subsidiary is essentially generating revenue for the Russian government, according to onlinepokerreport.com.

Gambling industry strikes back

The gambling industry has shown a predominantly united front in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

stopped betting on sporting events in Belarus and Russia

Many of the big-name US sportsbooks have already stopped betting on sporting events in Belarus and Russia, including DraftKings, Caesars, FanDuel, and PointsBet.

One noteworthy fundraising initiative, the Gambling Industry for Ukraine, has already raised £192,057 ($252,971) in its aim to reach a target of £250,000 ($328,534) on behalf of a charity called Choose Love, which will use the funds to help those displaced by the war.