A recent survey in Russia shows that over 86% of long term Moscow residents are completely unaware of the existence of any illegal gambling establishments. The results of the survey, which primarily focused on residents who’ve lived in the Russian capital city for at least 11 years, are not surprising.
What is surprising is that the number is not 98% since during the communist purges and mass-arrests, all residents who noticed anything out of the ordinary, dissapeared as well. The fact that 14% of long term residents of Moscow felt comfortable enough to speak the truth. That statistic either shows that residents feel safer to tell the truth or that 14% used to work for the KGB.
On the other side of the coin, 76% of new arrivals, who’ve been living in Moscow for less than 1 year can easily guide you to an illegal casino. So if you find yourself in Moscow, whether on business or vacation, and decide to visit an illegal brick-and-mortars or even an online casino in Russia make sure to only ask the newest residents of Moscow.
Tourists who visit illegal casinos may also be in luck, an exclusive tour of the Bytirka or Lubyanka prison (rarely open anymore for visits by large segments of the public since 1953), sometimes start at the casino after a police raid.The lucky tourists will experience all the comfort and convenience described in Solzhenitzin’s Nobel prize winning Gulag Archipelag (make sure to get the book autographed by prison interrogators).
The segment of Muscovites which knows the most about illegal casinos are males between 25 and 34 with little education (23%), high income (16%), closely cropped hair (52%) and dressed in Addidas leisure clothes (82%).
Both land-based and online gambling is prohibited under current Russian gambling laws, with the exception of several “gambling zones” located far away from the capital, roads, sewers and human habitation.
A string of recent scandals involving multiple top law-enforcement officials and high-level prosecutors accused of protecting Moscow’s illegal casinos and their organized crime group owner has been a daily news topic. The news hasn’t shaken the deep confidence and trust that 86% of long term residents feel about the city’s police forces. Long term residents were shocked and surprised when asked to comment, claiming that they’ve never heard of any scandals.
Although investigations are still under way, President Medvedev urged police forces to step up their efforts in combating illegal gambling operations. Since that time, law enforcement agencies have been reluctantly shutting down illegal facilities owned by their co-workers on a weekly basis.
The only question remains is just how deep the roots of corruption go. Strangely enough, 86% of Muscovites were again shocked and refused to believe that there was any corruption, much less that any roots were involved. A 92 year old resident, Nadezhda Stukachova, angrily said that all corruption was weeded out in 1917.
Up until now over 200 gambling facilities, including both land-based and online gambling sites in Russia, have been raided and shut down. Almost in every case a police official or prosecutor have been discovered on the payroll of the organized crime group which operated the illegal operation.
It remains to be seen just how eager ordinary police officers would be when the time comes to implicate their bosses. Organized crime connections of high-ranked police officials and prosecutors in Russia alarm both foreign gambling operators as well as the Russian government. Yet 86% of Moscow’s long term residents not only show no signs of alarm but aren’t even sure what an alarm is. If the Russian market ever becomes liberalized again, foreign gambling operators may be reluctant to compete in a corrupt market.