With few exceptions, Russian gambling laws generally forbid any form of gambling throughout Russia. Of course, this prohibition has only a limited effect against this popular form of amusement. Less so when operators still find gaming parlors profitable enough that they will undertake the risks, or pay off corrupt cops.
Given enough gambling operations chancing Russia’s strict gambling regulations, it became inevitable that some fish would be caught. While it is not known – and may never be known – whether these four casinos missed their payments or became victims of greater greed or political ambitions, it is known that the Russian police have closed four unlawful casino operations in Moscow.
The Chief of the Department for Fighting Economic Crimes’ press service Filip Zolotnitsky professed that 200 police officers were engaged in the raids. According to Zolotnitsky, “We confiscated roulette and poker tables, slot games and many documents that demonstrate the illegal activities”.
These raids are hardly news in Russia which has seen a proliferation of underground casinos after strict gambling laws were put in place. In July 2009, these laws banished the legal casino operations to the Altai Republic, Azov City near the Black Sea region of Krasnodar, the Kaliningrad region, and the Primorsky region in the Far East.
Deputy Director of the Russian Association for the Development of Gaming Business, Samuil Binder, explains that legitimate gambling operators either left the country or went into real estate, leaving a blue ocean for criminal organizations. He claims “I’ve always said that criminals would start taking advantage of a very lucrative niche after the ban. . . . Everyone wins from this – the criminal groups and the police structures that cover them.”
In spite of strict laws against offline betting, the government has yet to forbid internet gambling in the Russian Federation.