Still going strong - Russian gambling

Banishment to remote regions does not appear to be working

One year on from Russia’s draconian bans on gambling in all but four remote regions (see previous InfoPowa reports), gambling is still apparently rampant despite police raids and other enforcement measures.

Far from being game over, it appears that the popular pastime has simply moved underground, or has remodeled to exploit loopholes in the law, resulting in calls for review and revision reports in the Russian media suggest.

In Moscow, experts say, it seems it’s business as usual.

“Slot machines businesses were shut down 12 months ago,” said Olga Golubeva, executive secretary of the Moscow Government’s Interdepartmental Commission for Gambling Business. “Regrettably, the majority of them were replaced with these so-called ‘lottery machines.’ “

There is no law defining the requirements of the lottery equipment or lottery software. The business owners are able to obtain certificates confirming that their old gambling equipment is, in fact, lottery equipment. And courts are unable to overrule such certifications.

It’s not just the lottery machines that are causing concern. Gambling has gone underground in Moscow and although officials have closed down some of the illegal games, many say corruption among law enforcement officials has enabled operators to continue offering their products.

“I have been gambling for about ten years,” said one anonymous gambler. “Since the ban’s come into force nothing’s changed fundamentally and people know where to go.”

Artur Voskanyan, who heads a Russian-based company which organises poker trips abroad, says the Russian government should rethink the law in the interests of protecting gamblers and in the process raising tax revenues for the government.

“If it were legal, the government would have more money,” he told one publication.

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