Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, PokerStars has postponed its planned European Poker Tour (EPT) stop in Russia, which was scheduled for late March. Instead, and pending further developments, the EPT’s trip to Sochi will take place October 1-10, 2022.
In postponing the upcoming EPT stop, Stars’ PokerStars LIVE division, which oversees all live events and tours organized under the PokerStars name, joins a growing list of sports and entertainment entities calling off events in Russia for the time being.
Besides PokerStars postponement of next month’s Sochi stop, Formula I racing has already announced the cancellation of September’s planned Russian Grand Prix. In football (soccer in the U.S.), UEFA has moved May’s final in the Men’s Champions League from St. Petersburg, in Russia, to France, and the International Ski Federation (FIS) has called off all World Cup events scheduled to take place in Russia for the remainder of the winter.
In one of the most important sports-related developments to date, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged sports bodies around the globe to cancel or move events that are scheduled to be held in Russia or Russian-controlled Belarus. The Olympics themselves have long been of outside importance to Russian interests; throughout January and early February, several political analysts suggested that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would occur, but not until after the recent Winter Olympics in Beijing had concluded. Those predictions appear to have been proven accurate by this week’s events.
No formal statement from PokerStars as yet
Despite the changed information for the EPT Sochi information on PokerStars LIVE’s page dedicated to the series, PokerStars itself has yet to issue any statement regarding its decision to postpone the original March 18-27, 2022 Sochi stop. In postponing the series, rather than canceling it outright, Stars maintains — at least for the time being — the opportunity to run a “normal” series while hoping for a reversal in the current hostilities.
The schedule for the revised October EPT Sochi series also includes 10 days of events, the same as the original March stop had planned. Noted highlights are a high-roller tourney planned for October 3-5 and the stop’s main event, now scheduled for October 5-10, 2022.
One additional consideration is the extent to which PokerStars and parent company Flutter Entertainment will be able to conduct business in Russia or with Russian customers in the face of increasing financial sanctions slapped on Russia’s Vladimir Putin-led regime. Flutter Entertainment is domiciled in Dublin, Ireland and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom but is a European Union (EU) member country, and the EU has already announced some sanctions against Russia. Current and future sanctions could affect both live and online business between PokerStars and Russia and its players, and it may be a situation that Flutter is still assessing. Poker.org reached out to PokerStars for a comment on the situation but had not received a response as of this story’s publication.
Featured image source: PokerStars LIVE