From July 1, anyone in Russia who fancies a flutter will have to make their way to one of four zones that are being specially designated for gambling.
Kaliningrad in the Baltics, Krasnodar-Rostov in the South East, Altai in Siberia and Primorye in the East will all become gambling centres. Russia has wanted to clean up its casinos for a while now. This raid on Casino Crystal in 2006 was carried out after the Minister of the Interior accused it of irregularities and connections with organised crime. Since the end of the Soviet Union, the gambling industry has flourished unchecked with 550 amusement arcades and 30 casinos sprouting up in a few short years in Moscow alone. Authorities have tried to stamp out unregulated gambling, rounding up slot machines and destroying them. Now authorities have opted to cordon the industry off into specific areas. Gambling in Russia is reputed to generate five billion euros a year and be worth some 700 euros in taxes. The gambling sector says between 300,000 and 400,000 jobs will be lost when the casinos move. What’s more they argue that it is unwise to fiddle with this industry during an economic down-turn when unemployment is at 8%. The Russian government argues that 16 billion Euros is being spent to establish the four new gambling zones. Much of that will go to local people…as well as a fair few examples of Las Vegas Kitsch.