International edition
June 23, 2021

The owners of the casinos will be charged

Four illegal casinos closed down in central Moscow

(Russia).- Four illegal casinos were closed down in Moscow last night, spokesman for the city police department’s economic crime division Filip Zolotnitsky told Itar-Tass. About 200 police officers took part in the operation, he said.

The police seized poker tables, roulettes and slot machines, as well as plenty of records confirming illegal operations. The casinos offered bars with expensive beverages and concerts by pop stars,” he said. The owners of the casinos will be charged, Zolotnitsky commented.

The first legal casino in the former Soviet Union opened at the Moscow Savoy Hotel with a special permission of the government in 1989. The casino designed by a Finnish company had only foreign clients. Another casino opened one year later for foreign and local clients. That casino was put on the Guinness Book of Records.

The first casino dealing in rubles opened in 1991 and gave rise to the gaming business. Moscow alone had about 200 casinos in the end of the 1990s. The first slot machine parlors opened in 1993, and the business boomed by 2002.

There were 800 parlors with 12,000 slot machines in Russia in 1998, and over 2,100 with 35,000 slot machines in the end of 2000. Most of them (20,000 or 63%) were installed in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and another 20% in twelve large regions – Stavropol and Krasnodar territories, Rostov, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Volgograd, Sverdlovsk, Leningrad, Perm and Novosibirsk regions, Udmurtia and Tatarstan.

Many gaming facilities, especially slot machine parlors, became semi-legal in the early 2000s. Slot machines were installed even at bus stops.

The first law limiting the gaming business in Russia was adopted in 2006. It specified the minimum space of a gaming facility, the minimal distance to schools, colleges, public and administrative buildings, and so on. Institutions, which failed to meet the requirements had to close down by July 1, 2007.

Then President Putin initiated the gaming industry law after the Interior Ministry had held a series of operations to check the financial, tax and sanitary-epidemiological status of gaming facilities in Moscow, which were allegedly linked to the Georgian mob.

Putin voiced concern over the growing dependency of Russians on gaming. “It is a pity that casinos and slot machines are as addictive as alcohol in this country,” he said. In the opinion of Putin, the decision to form four gaming zones was civilized.

The law said that gaming zones would be built on land lots belonging to federal or municipal authorities and not allocated for urban or rural development. The gaming community was supposed to lease the land lots from the federal government. It is also possible to open gaming sites on territories allocated for urban and rural development. In that case licenses would be issued on coordination with local authorities.

The law set particular requirements for owners of gaming sites. They must be Russian private legal entities with net assets larger than us$ 19.4 million. The law, which entered into force on January 1, 2007, tightened gaming industry requirements and all the gaming sites that failed to meet them closed down.

All Russian casinos and slot machine parlors operating outside the four gaming zones closed down on July 1, 2009. The gaming zones will open in the Kaliningrad region, the Altai and Primorye territories and the Krasnodar territory.

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