ussian officials say remaining casinos will be closed by the July 1st deadline to end gambling around the capital and throughout most of the country. But surveys show 30 casinos and 516 slot machine facilities are still currently operating.
Gaming industry experts have said the legislative plan to set up four distant gaming zones ignores the reality of the situation. "I cannot travel hundreds of miles to gamble," said Moscow native Peter Klimt. "Why should I be refused my entertainment?"
Russian gaming operators have estimated as many as 80% of gambling patrons in Moscow would be unable to afford trips to the gambling areas proposed by the government. They say gaming will continue in Moscow, illegally and without licensing if necessary.
Residents interviewed leaving local casinos said they will play either way and don't care if a casino is recognized by the state. By law, all gaming will cease July 1st, with the gambling zones still to be designed.
However, it is agreed the zones will be distant from Moscow, and will attempt a tourist orientation. Thousands of jobs are in jeopardy if the casinos do close.