n July 1, 2009 Russia banned gambling outside four special zones - in the Altai and Maritime territories, in the Kaliningrad region and at the border between the Krasnodar territory and the Rostov region. The only possible exceptions are licensed bookmakers and betting shops. In 2006, a bill on gambling offered regulations for the future zones. Three years later, the federal tax authority made an inventory of the entire gambling industry.
In 2010, the Azov-City gambling zone at the border between the Krasnodar territory and the Rostov region was relocated to the city of Anapa at the Black Sea, where the transport infrastructures were better. The zone was renamed for Golden Sands.
Only one gambling zone, Yantarnaya (in the Kaliningrad region), has been developing actively as yet: in April the government agreed to expand its territory by another 100 hectares. The country’s leadership did not support the idea to organise a gambling zone in Sochi (which hosted the Olympic Games), while the idea to organise one in Crimea was welcomed by the federal authorities.
Organisers say the zones may be used not only for gambling, they may become leisure and rehabilitation centres, may host business conferences. However, the general concept of gambling zones still remains rather vague.
At the time the law on gambling zones was adopted, throughout Russia were functioning 12.000 casinos, and 350.000 slot machines and 5.000 gambling tables under 6.300 licenses. The annual aggregated revenues of the Russian gambling industry reached US$ 5.5 billion, and tax payments - US$ 480 million. Most casinos (80%) were located in Moscow and St. Petersburg.