Opposition to relocation of Russian gambling to Black Sea

Three years on from the draconian gambling bans, the Russians are still arguing over designated areas

Three years on from the draconian Russian decrees that banished gambling to remote areas of the country, regional politicians are still arguing over the location and development of land casinos in the designated areas.

On October 1, the second legal casino, the 1500 square metre Shambala, opened its doors in the Azov-City gambling zone in Krasnodar Territory. The Krasnodar Territory invested a billion roubles in developing the infrastructure of the gambling zone, and the Rostov Region invested a further 170 million roubles, reports the Russian media agency Tass.

Despite this, on October 5 a bill was submitted to the State Duma (Parliament), suggesting the Rostov region be removed from the list of acceptable areas where gambling is permitted.

The bill is the work of first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Budgets and Taxes, Gleb Khor, who noted that despite the passage of three years, there has still been insufficient development or casino investment in the Azov-City gambling zone in the Shcherbinovsky district of the Krasnodar Territory and the Azovsky district of the Rostov Region.

Khor appears to feel that the designated area can be better used to develop resort and tourism commercial activity, which he predicts will attract more investment.

To speed up such a change, Khor's bill also suggests doing away with regulations that require a ten year interval before any decision on terminating the status of a gazetted gambling zone is effective.

Khor's bill replaces and supercedes an earlier legislative proposal amending existing law by himself and Krasnodar Territory senator Alexander Pochinok and seeking the closure of Azov-City. This was withdrawn from the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy and Business Activities, and replaced by the new and entirely seperate bill.

Committee chairman Yevgeny Fedorov claims that there has been development in that part of Azov-City that falls within the Krasnodar region, but that this has not been the case with the Rostov component.

Complicating the issue is a proposal tabled on August 12 by Krasnodar politicians which suggests moving the Azov-City gambling zone to the free territory of the Black Sea coast (see previous InfoPowa report).

The proposal was backed by the non-commercial agency Association of Development of the Azov-City Gambling Zone and Azov-City investors on grounds that such a relocation would give the gambling project a better chance of success.

However, Rostov region officials opposed the application, with regional governor Vassily Golubev appealing to State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov “to clear up the situation in essence” and to head off the relocation of Azov-City as well as leaving the Rostov region in the list of areas where the location of gambling zones is permitted.

The governor received influential support for his opposition from the Speaker of the Federation Council upper chamber, Sergei Mironov.

“I have a negative attitude to this initiative, since the idea was quite correct from the outset: gambling zones should be ‘in a barren field’, because any zone in a city is again a calamity; this is what we have escaped from,” Miranov said.

On July 1, 2009, Russia put into force a federal law banning the operation of gambling establishments throughout the country, apart from specially reserved zones identified as the Primorye and Altai territories, the Kaliningrad Region, and on the border of the Krasnodar Territory and the Rostov Region.

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