Russians Bet on Online Poker

Published Saturday, April 18, 2009 -

Russian's enjoy the odd drop of vodka, they like their fur hats and coats, and they used to like going to the casino once and awhile to play slots or roulette.

In a move that has relegated gambling to certain areas of the country, the Russian people will now have to travel far and wide in the vast country to play at the tables.

With the new anti gambling legislation many that were gamefully employed in the industry are now seeking new jobs.The prestigious Metelitsa Club is laying off 746 staff, while the Jackpot chain is letting 1,333 go ahead of July 1, when casinos and slot-machine halls must close or move to one of four regional gambling zones in far flung regions of Russia. A further 273 jobs are under threat at Mercury, according to Director of Moscow's Jobs and Employment department Oleg Neterebsky. Deputy Mayor of Moscow Sergei Baidakov has denied that the change will be costly. "The closure of casinos and amusement arcades will not be an insurmountable problem for the city's economy."

Before the law was passed there were 2,800 gambling establishments now there are 32 casinos and 517 other gambling establishments employing nearly 40,000 people. After criticisms that the new law introduced to parliament back in 2006 and due to come into effect this summer 2009 was far too strict, poker has since been reclassified as a game of skill and is exempt from the legislation, while sports betting is not expected to be affected. Meanwhile, with Moscow's jobless figures climbing by about 2,000 a week, the prospect of yet more jobs being lost in the gambling sector is troubling.. Since then, the recession has left potential investors reluctant to reinvest in a faultering economy and two of the four proposed regions have urged a delay until 2012. At present, online casino style gambling is illegal in Russia, though internet poker betting is permitted.

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