New Law Sees Casinos Shut Across RussiaJuly 1, 2009 7:51 am
Thousands of casinos and gambling houses across Russia have shut down in compliance with a new law that requires gambling institutions to relocate to special Las Vegas type gambling zones.
The law, proposed by Vladmir Putin is designed to not only reign in the growing Russian appetite for gambling but also bring prosperity to four impoverished regions of Russia in need of development. It is in these regions, including one that is close to the North Korean border that these businesses are being encouraged to re locate to.
Journalists have speculated, however, that the law is related to the Russian governments desire to cut the tie between Georgian criminal elements and Moscow casinos and each of the development regions are located at least 1000km from Moscow.
The ban takes place on July 1st and it is believed that up to half a million people will lose their jobs as the legislation affects not only the casinos but all the roulette tables and slot machines in the country.
Croupier Dmitri Menshikov said “A job in the gambling industry has always been seen as completely crisis-proof and even in the big crisis of 1998, when the ruble and the Russian economy collapsed, salaries were still being paid in casinos.”
The new legislation is expected to impact particularly harshly Moscow and St Petersburgh which has over 500 casinos and gambling establishments.
A special task force has been set up to monitor compliance with the new law and Leonid Krutakov, a spokesman for the Moscow city government said;
“Law-enforcement agencies will stop attempts at illegal activity, and organizers of the gaming business will answer to the law. We will not allow gambling addiction to continue damaging the social health of Muscovites.”
In an unusual twist many of the gambling institutions may re invent themselves into poker halls as Russia officially classifies poker as a sport rather than a game of chance.