In early July of this year, the Russian government outlawed land based casinos and gambling facilities in most of the country. In compliance with Russian gambling laws, land based gambling has remained legal in just 4 far flung zones which are, as of yet, basically devoid of casinos.
Due to their lack in options, many Russians turned to the internet. Online gambling sites in Russia saw traffic taking off, and up to this point a good deal of revenue has been turned over. According to the audit company PricewaterhouseCoopers, gambling was a $3.6 billion industry in Russia in 2008. The same company expects that figure to drop to $1.5 billion in 2010, due to the legal changes.
Alas, the Russians obviously have a passion in gambling and these new laws and restrictions are not likely to stop them. As can be seen in the example of the online gambling boom, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Recently, gamblers and machine owners found a loophole in legislation.
In November of 2003, Putin signed a federal law on lotteries which allows any private company to open either traditional or electronic lotteries. The only obligations that such companies face are as follows: the company must be licensed by tax authorities, and no less than 10% of the profits made must be passed on to charity funds each quarter.
Recently, electronic “lotto” machines have sprung up all over the place in Russia. Unlike traditional lotteries, players insert money into the machine and it tells them instantaneously whether they have won or not. Due to these new charity lotteries, the industry is once again thriving.
The Finance Ministry is currently working on amendments to the lottery law but as can be seen through the new charity lottery machines and the surge in internet gambling in the Russian Federation, the people go through whatever means necessary to find a way to do what they want.