Rough times for gambling in Russia

The magnitude of Russia's decision to confine all land gambling to four geographic areas away from main population centres like Moscow and St Petersburg (see previous InfoPowa reports) was underlined this week by an article in the St. Petersburg Times.

The newspaper revealed that Moscow is not the only location where the ban will have a profound effect - in St. Petersburg it is expected that 109 land casinos will close on July 1st when the Russian diktaat comes into effect....and that could see up to 10 000 locals out of work.

The St Petersburg Times bases its statistics on data released by the local municipality, which indicates that between 10 000 and 12 000 residents are employed in the gambling industry.

According to estimates from City Hall, 10 000 to 12 000 people in St. Petersburg work in the gaming industry, all of whom will become unemployed under the new rules, said Lidiya Mamon, the head of the Office of Government-Regulated Aspects of the Committee on Economic Development, Industrial Policy and Trade.

In addition, 127 000 square meters of retail space currently occupied by the casinos will become vacant, and the city will lose at least 3.5 million rubles ($112 000) in tax revenues, or one percent of the local budget.

The gambling laws restrict all gaming activity to four zones located in remote parts of Russia: the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the Caucasus, the Pacific coast and southwestern Siberia. The restrictions go into effect on July 1, although the head regulator of Russia’s special economic zones said Thursday that the country will not be able to open the gaming zones in less than four to five years.

Mamon said that St. Petersburg will attempt to take up the vacated retail space with shops, offices and restaurants.

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