Russia To Ban Casinos In Major Cities - Develop Gambling Zones
Starting July 1st, all land-based casinos and slot machines halls are scheduled to be banned in Russia and replaced by a four "gambling zones" that will be distributed throughout the country.
Four Las Vegas Style "Gambling Zones"
The law was passed in 2006 by then president Vladimir Putin and it will ban gambling in Russia except in the aforementioned "gambling zones". The four zones will be at the following locations: one in the Altai region, one in the Far East near the North and Chinese borders, one in Kaliningrad and the fourth near the Azov Sea in the South of Russia.
The effects are already being felt in Moscow were a number of casinos have already turned off their bright lights and placed "for rent" signs outside.
It was touted as a way to develop "Las Vegas" style regions in the country while taking gambling away from the major cities and bring this business and subsequent tourism to other areas of the country.
Problems On The Horizon
The problem however is that the "gambling zones" have yet to be built and with the closing of the existing gaming establishments tomorrow, jobs could be lost and that's the last thing that the struggling Russian economy needs.
The casinos have pleaded with the government for delaying the bad, stating that the new law would create tough times for workers, especially during the current economic crisis.
Players Will Look For Alternatives
No one knows what the fallout will be but we can speculate. First, players will probably flock to other areas in Eastern Europe where land-based gaming is legal to play there. Secondly, poker might also get a boost seeing as though it is considered a "sport" in Russia, which makes it legal. People have also been taking poker lessons so that they can play poker after the ban instead of the regular casino gaming.
Lastly, it will surely have an impact on online casino gaming as more Russian players will turn to online gaming following the ban. Moscow for example was home to 30 live casinos and over 500 slot halls and with those closing, players who are used to playing in the big city will probably shift their focus from land-based gaming to online gaming.
Let Them Play
We can see why the Russian government would want to drive business and tourism to more remote regions but it seems counterproductive if you are depriving other areas from that same business.
Here's hoping that the players will turn more to online gaming and that the government does not try to restrict access to locals, like we have seen in other countries.