Although the group preferred not comment about the issue, it is fair to assume that the decision to withdraw from Russia’s poker market is to be seen as a direct consequence of the so-called war against online poker Russia’s authorities began only few weeks ago.
On March 21, 2014, in execution of a request coming from the prosecutor’s office, Russian officials proceeded to update the country’s Internet blacklist, adding to the already large number of websites blocked by the country’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Some of world’s most prominent online poker operators were affected, including PokerStars, Unibet, Titanpoker and partypoker.
The news, which initially caused concern within the international poker community for the risk of seeing Russia’s players cut out from all online poker games, was viewed differently once it became clear how the measures put into place by Russia’s ISPs did not affect the use of poker clients from the country.
As PokerStars clearly stated only few hours after Russia’s blacklist update took place, "the measures taken by Roskomnadzor (Russia’s Internet watchdog), and the resulting action with the Common Registry of Banned Websites that prevents access to our PokerStars.com website, does not affect [the] ability to continue playing at PokerStars. At this time we do not believe this changes our ability to offer services to Russian players. As such our operations continue as usual."
Yet, as reported by PokerFuse, things seems to have gone differently for the Paris-based group controlled by the Lov Group and La Société des Bains de Mer, as the four brands that make up Betclic-Everest (Betclic, Everest, bet-at-home.com and Expekt) will no longer conduct any operations for Russia’s residents.
The news comes a week after the group announced the end of its operations in Belgium, a country where it currently risks fines of over $1,000,000 as a consequence of an investigation started by Belgium’s Public Prosecution Office on operations conducted by Betclic-Everest outside of the country’s legalized market.