A ban on casino gambling in Moscow will come into effect July 1st 2009; many of the casinos at stake are already preparing to convert their businesses to poker rooms – considered a sport in Russia and legally accepted.
Online PR News – 17-March-2009 – – According to Deputy Mayor Sergey Baidakov, out of the 549 gambling establishments and 32 casinos in Moscow, 90% are predicted to continue operating after some adjustments as entertainment centers, restaurants, or concert halls.
The original plan was to relocate the Russian gambling industry to four designated areas in which gambling will be permitted. This was expected to happen by this summer, but it now appears as though none of the deadlines will be met by then. So far the government has managed to authorize 3 of the 4 zones;
-Azov City- located on the border of the Rostov and Krasnodar region
- Sibirskaya Moneta- located in Altai
- Yantarnaya-located in the Kaliningrad region
But decisions about the fourth zone have not been finalized yet.
Since 2007, the Russian Federal Sports Agency has recognized poker (and its variants Omaha and Texas Hold’em) as a competitive sport, following an order signed March 26 by the Vyacheslav Fetisov- acting CEO of the RFSA. The designation of poker as a sport is the perfect solution for bypassing the new gambling ban. Exemplifies the Russian gambling industry’s smooth decoy tactic, an official of the RGNA (Russian Gaming Business Association) has been quoted saying:
"This game doesn't have any connection to the gambling business, since in sports poker the players are competing against one another not the casino, In Austria, Denmark and several U.S. states, poker has been removed from the list of games of chance."
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