The success of a PokerStars tournament organized last year helped to galvanize the decision.
TALLINN - Estonia has legalized online gambling in an effort to help raise funds through taxation.
The country is hoping to join the eurozone next year and is desperately searching for alternatives sources of income after suffering one of the worst recessions in the EU.
The decision to legalize online gambling, including poker, comes on the heels of a highly successful poker tournament hosted by the country adn sponsored by PokerStars.com, the world's largest online gambling site.
The Estonian Free Press reported that people would be allowed to use Estonia-based online gaming companies through 2010, and that as of 2011 the market would be open to everyone.
“We are truly glad of this opportunity to start our partnership with Olympic as the leading casino entertainment provider in Central and Eastern Europe,” Executive Manager of Playtech Mor Weizer told the news site.
Estonian poker player Imre Leibold had previously said the development would be detremental to local players.
“The possibility that online poker gaming could be restricted is not good news for us,” he said. “I believe and hope that the whole affair is resolved and that there will be several reasonable gaming locations on the market. However, if things get tough, one may have to consider moving residence or start working abroad like Estonian builders in Finland.”