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Casinos Shut Down in Russia

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Jun/29/2009
Russia Casinos

The Kremlin has ordered all casinos shut down.  The resulting impact:  Some hundreds of thousands of people out of work. 

Russia has offered four locations throughout the country in which the casinos can move to, none of which are equipped to handle the businesses just yet.  All are approximately 4000 miles away from Moscow in luxury locales such as the North Korean border or Siberia.

"This is shaking my life to the core - such a blow for me and my family," Irina Mysachka, 32, a single mother who is a supervisor at the Shangri-La Casino in Moscow, told the New York Times.

"The authorities are taking this step without thinking at all," she said. "They have not considered what this decision means for the workers. With the crisis, it is going to be very difficult for us."

The global economic crisis has hit Russia hard with nary a job to be found. Mysachka told the Times she will need to search for work abroad.  Just last week The World Bank concluded the recession in Russia will run deeper and longer than it appeared even a few months ago. The bank's new projection showed that the Russian economy would contract by 7.9 percent this year and not recover to precrisis levels until at least 2012.  400,000 people are expected to be out of work come July 1 as a result of the casino closures. 

The law that started the whole process was introduced in 2006 by Mr. Putin, then the president and now the prime minister, who spoke of the perils of the blackjack tables and the one-armed bandits, of shady characters having a grip on the industry.

Neither Mr. Putin nor his protégé, President Dmitri A. Medvedev, have yielded to requests for a reprieve.

"The rules will not be revised in any way," Mr. Medvedev said last month, "and there will be no backsliding, although various business organizations have been lobbying for precisely this."

Casinos in Russia are now to be confined to the Altai region of Siberia; the coastal area of the Far East, near the border with North Korea and China; Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania; and the Azov Sea region in the south. Until casinos open there, Russia will be one of the few countries in Europe without them, though underground ones are likely to be established, the Times reports.

"It's just not going anywhere fast," Joseph Weinert told USA Today more than a year ago.  Weinert is a spokesperson for Spectrum Gaming Group, a U.S. firm that advised on developing one of the resorts. At the time there were talks of postponing the deadline up to three years.  "The clock is ticking, and as far as we can tell there is going to be no gambling in these (planned resorts) come July 1."

And, as it turns out, Weinert predicted correctly. 

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Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com 

 

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