Russia-based Alsart Group has opened the first of a planned 20 poker clubs in Ukraine, report news sources Jamma Europe and Yogonet. The move follows the closing of every legal casino and slot hall in the nation this past summer, after a deadly fire in a small provincial arcade.
The Poker Ring club chain is the first major gaming effort to appear in Ukraine since the nationwide ban. The now-vacant, former gaming properties and an abundance of trained, unemployed personnel are being seen as ingredients for accelerated development of a poker industry. The first Poker Ring club has eight tables.
Alsart hopes to cash in on an expected influx of Russian players, whose own poker circuit was destroyed almost overnight in July, when the Russian government decided to remove tournament poker from the approved list of sports. Prior to the government decision, many former casinos and slot halls in Russia were being converted to poker clubs.
In August, the European Poker Tour event originally planned for Moscow was moved to Kiev.