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Russian Gaming Laws

By Reno Rollins

Gambling is legal in Russia, although laws restrict where gaming may take place. By July 1st, 2009, all casinos and slot machine halls must be located in four special zones throughout the country. Legal gaming includes casinos, slot machines, sports betting, poker and the lottery. Internet gambling is not legal in Russia.

Russians have embraced gambling over the centuries. So much, in fact, that famed Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky suggested in his 1887 novel “The Gambler” that gambling was an addiction suited to the Russian soul. Dostoyevsky, by the way, wrote “The Gambler” in order to pay off a gambling debt.

With the rise of the Soviet Union, gambling was banned until the end of the 1980s. Even playing a friendly game of cards in public was considered against the law. But following the collapse of the Soviet Union, casinos began to flourish around 2001. It is now estimated that nearly $6 billion is spent on gambling each year in Russia.

In October of 2006, two casinos were closed by Russian officials due to connections with the Georgian mafia. The casinos were the Kristal and the Golden Palace Casino.

In the same month, President Vladimir Putin submitted a bill which would ban gambling in Russia except for four special zones. According to the bill, these restriction would come into effect in 2009. The bill would also set the legal gambling age at 18.

By December of 2006, the special zones had been set in the Kaliningrad region, the Altai republic, the Maritime territory and on the border of the Rostov region and Krasnodar territory. As part of the bill, five year licenses would be granted for operation within the official zones. Later in December, President Putin signed the bill into law.

The new law also banned gambling over the Internet. While Russia had never offered much more than online support for mobile gaming, these companies were effectively closed at the end of 2006.

The effects of the new law were felt immediately. In January of 2007, Sun International pulled out of a major casino development plan in Moscow. The plan was estimated to be worth $2 billion dollars.

In March of 2007, the Russian Sports Minister classified poker tournaments as an official sports competition instead of gambling. This decision will permit poker tournaments to be exempt from the 2006 gambling law.

Since January 1st of 2008, more than 300 slot machine halls have ceased operations in St. Petersburg. This was part of a new regional law which allows casinos to continue operation until July 1st, 2009.

In March of 2008, the Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Union called for the new gambling law to be relaxed, claiming that the July 2009 deadline would deter investment in the country. The group went on to add that the special zones weren’t attracting international chains.

Casinos in Russia

There are over 120 casinos in Russia, although the new gambling legislation may drastically cut that number by 2009. In a recent poll, the majority of players said that they preferred roulette (53%) as their game of choice. 25% selected poker, and another 16% chose blackjack. Almost half of the players polled (43%) admitted to going to the casino to win money. 38% went to watch entertainment programs, while 10% went to see concerts. 9% admitted to going because it had become a habit.

Currently, the casinos in Moscow include:

- Carnival (Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 7,530 square feet of gaming space. There are 200 gaming machines and 22 table games (including Stud Poker, Russian Poker, Blackjack, Texas Hold’em and American Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 780 3457.

- Casino A-Club (Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino offers 78 gaming machines and 41 table games (including Poker, Roulette and Blackjack). A sports book is also available on the premises.

- Casino Admiral (Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 36 gaming machines and 12 table games (including Poker, Blackjack and American Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 231 4305.

- Casino Ambassador (Moscow, Moskva, Russia) This casino is open 24 hours a day and offers 10 table games (including Blackjack, Poker and American Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 232 5694.

- Casino Arbat (Novy Arbat 21, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 120 gaming machines and 40 table games (including Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat, 3 Card Poker, 5 Card Stud and American Roulette).

- Casino Baccara (Vavilova 69, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 100 gaming machines and 34 table games (Blackjack, Poker, Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 737 3344.

- Casino Cosmos - Cosmos Hotel (150 Prospect Mira, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 69 gaming machines and 27 table games (including Stud Poker, Roulette, Poker, Oasis Poker, Blackjack and Baccarat). There are also seven restaurants and a 200-room hotel on the premises. For more information, call +7 495 234 1155.

- Casino de Paris (15 Kosygina Street, Moscow, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 700 gaming machines and 60 table games (including American Roulette, Blackjack, Poker, Five-Card Stud and Punto Banco). A hotel, bar and four restaurants are also located on the property. For more information, call +7 495 939 8777.

- Casino Desperado (Baryshikha Street 14, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino features 122 gaming machines and 20 table games (Roulette, Poker, Oasis Poker and Blackjack). For more information, call +7 495 754 7080.

- Casino Faraon (Leninskiy Prospect 88, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino offers 100 gaming machines and 39 table games (including Blackjack, Poker and Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 131 7033.

- Casino Golden Palace (15 3rd Ulitsa Yamskogo Polya, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 121 gaming machines and 78 table games (including Poker, Blackjack and American Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 232 1515.

- Casino Imperia (Ulitsa Pravdy 1, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) This casino is open 24 hours a day and features 60 gaming machines and 43 table games (including Poker, Blackjack and American Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 777 7071.

- Casino Metropol - Metropol Hotel (Moscow, Moskva, Russian Federation) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 86 gaming machines and 25 table games (including Punco Banco, Poker, Blackjack, 5 Card Stud and American Roulette). For more information, call +7 499 270 1050.

- Casino Mirage (Novy Arbat 21, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 19,375 square feet of gaming space. There are 120 gaming machines and 42 table games. For more information, call +7 495 787 7501.

- Casino Molodaya Gvardia (Dmitrovskoye Shosse 27, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) This casino has 178 gaming machines and 36 table games (including Blackjack and Poker). It is open 24 hours a day. For more information, call +7 495 780 3601.

- Casino Salyut (Leninskiy Prospect 158, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino offers 41 gaming machines and 15 table games (including Roulette, Poker and Blackjack). For more information, call +7 495 232 9809.

- Casino Sofia (Sirenevy Boulevard 31, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours, this casino offers 30 gaming machines and 28 table games (including Blackjack, Poker and Roulette). For more information, call +7 495 163 7414.

- Casino Sol (Nikolayemskiy Pereulok 2, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open all day, this casino features 44 gaming machines and 44 table games (including Blackjack and Poker). A restaurant and bar are also located on the premises.

- Casino Udarnik (Serafimovicha 2, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 214 gaming machines and 37 table and poker games (including American Roulette, Blackjack, Russian Poker, Six Card Poker, Stud Poker and Texas Holdem).

- Club Europe (Bolshoy Putinkovskiy Pereulok 5, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 100 gaming machines and 35 table games (including Roulette, Poker, Electronic Roulette, Craps, Blackjack and Baccarat). A sports book is also available.

- Club Manhattan (Yasnogorskaya Ulitsa 2, Moscow, Moskva, Russia) Open 24 hours, this casino has 102 gaming machines. For more information, call +7 495 426 7633.

- Crystal Casino (Moscow, Russia) Open 24 hours, this casino has 215 gaming machines and 77 table games (Baccarat, Blackjack, Craps and Roulette).

- Eldorado-1 This casino is open 24 hours and offers 65 gaming machines.

- JazzTown Entertainment Complex (Taganskaya Square 12/4, Moscow, Russia) This 33,400 square foot casino is open 24 hours a day. There are 87 slot machines and 40 table games (including Texas Holdem, Six Card Poker, Russian Poker, Poker, Caribbean Stud, Blackjack Switch, Blackjack and American Roulette).

- Korona (Novy Arbat 15, Moscow, Russia) Open 24 hours, this casino has 95 gaming machines and 40 table games (including Roulette, Punto Banco, Poker, Craps and Blackjack). For more information, call +7 495 202 6987.

- Metelitsa Entertainment Complex (21 Novy Arbat, Moscow, Russia) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 157 gaming machines and 61 table games (Texas Hold‘em, Poker, Oasis Stud Poker, Craps and Blackjack). A sportsbook is also offered on the premises.

- New York (Bolshaya Sadovaya St. 5, Moscow, Russia) This casino has 21,500 square feet of gaming space and is open 24 hours a day. There are 143 gaming machines and 21 table games (including Texas Hold’em, Six Card Poker, Russian Poker, Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Blackjack Switch, Blackjack and American Roulette).

- Shangri La Casino (2 Pushinskaya Square, Moscow, Russia) Open 24 hours, this casino has 182 slot machines and 43 table games (including Blackjack, Casino Stud Poker, Omaha Hold’em, Poker, Roulette and Texas Hold’em).

- VIP National Club (Ulitsa Mohovaya 15/1, Moscow, Moskva, Russian Federation) Open daily from 2pm until 6am, this casino offers five gaming machines and 14 table games (including Blackjack, American Roulette, Oasis Stud Poker and Poker).

Other Russian casinos include:

- Casino Egoist (Arhangelsk)
- Viking Club - Baltivsk (Baltiysk)
- Casino Etual (Blagoveshensk)
- Casino Katarinenburg (Ekaterinburg)
- Zolotoy Teletz Club
- Casino Eldorado (Engels)
- Casino Flamingo (Gelendjik)
- Casino Eldorado (Irkutsk)
- Casino Imperial
- Atlanis Slot Hall (Izhevsk)
- Casino Central’nove
- Casino Grand
- Casino Imperia
- Casino Monetny Dvor (Kaliningrad)
- Casino Planeta
- Casino Universal
- Olshtyn
- Viking Club - Akropol
- Viking Club - Gorkogo
- Viking Club - Ivannikova
- Viking Club - Kaliningrad
- Viking Club - Mira
- Casino 420 (Kazan)
- Casino Golden Game
- Casino Rafaela (Khabarovsk)
- Casino Tourist
- Casino Zolotoy Dvoretz
- Casino Grand (Kolomna)
- Casino Pyat Uglov (Murmansk)
- Joker-Bar
- Casino Diamond (Nizhny Novgorod)
- Casino Jordan
- Casino Esmeralda (Novosibirsk)
- Casino Imperial
- Casino Zhemchuzhina
- Safari Entertainment Complex
- Viva! Casino Omsk (Omsk)
- Casino Yelena (Reutov)
- Casino California (Rostov-na-Donu)
- Casino Golden Jack
- Casino Las Vegas
- Casino Russkaya Troyka (Ryazan)
- Fortuna Restaurant and Casino
- Casino Moonlight (Samara)
- Casino ARS (Saratov)
- Casino Faraon
- Casino Prospect
- Casino Caesar’s Palace (Sochi)
- Radisson Hotel Lazurnaya & Casino
- Casino Aladdin (St. Petersburg)
- Casino Conti
- Casino Emerald
- Casino Golden Garden
- Casino GoodWin
- Casino Lux
- Casino Neva-Da!
- Casino Olympia
- Casino Papanin
- Casino Slava
- Casino-Club
- Premier
- Taleon Club and Casino
- Vegas Casino and Sports Bar
- Viking Club - Syetly (Syetly)
- Club Chehonte (Taganrog)
- Casino MDC (Tolyatti)
- Casino Split (Tver)
- Casino Eldorado (Vladivostok)
- Casino Espanyola
- Casino Focus Pocus
- Casino Primorye
- Viking Casino - Zelenogradsk (Zelenogradsk)

Lottery in Russia

In 1998, Compu-Dawn Inc. acquired 50% interest in Press-Loto, a Russian company which had the right to operate Russia’s first national networked lottery. Before 1998, Russia had never had a computerized national lottery, although scratch-off lottery tickets had been available for over 20 years.

In October of 2005, the All Russia National Lottery was launched. In August of that same year, it was announced that Moscow would launch a citywide lottery.

On August 8th, 2007, it was announced that the Federal Communications Agency would organize a new state lottery to raise funds for socially important projects.

The largest Russian lottery operator is the company known as Interlot. They conduct passive and instant lotteries throughout the country, and they also offer the only housing lottery in Russia. They are based in Moscow, and their website is www.interlot.ru/.

The most popular lottery in Russia is Ruskoe loto (Russian lotto). This lottery was created in 1993 and launched in 1994. Taking the form of a television program, the turnover reach $45 million from November 2001 until June 2002.

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