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Insight RUSSIA


Illegal gambling booms in Moscow


Underground gambling is thriving in Moscow, formerly the most profitable hub in Russia’s $7.8 billion market, with a national ban imposed in 2009 only serving to spawn a boom in illegal casinos. Asia Gambling Brief


Illegal gambling dens and official corruption are seen as posing a serious threat to efforts to attract foreign investment to the Russia’s four official gambling zones.


“There are approximately a thousand apartments scattered around Moscow, where you can gamble if you know the owner of the place or have a good reputation among its standing customers,” explained an officer of The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) who wished to remain anonymous.


“Those are usually two to 10 room flats crammed 2 6


with poker and roulette tables, but it's a common picture for places that target VIP clients,” he added.


The officer estimates that the annual turnover of Russia’s gambling industry has jumped by 150 per cent since the ban was imposed, from about $6bn per year to more than $15bn per year.


In 2008, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs put the size of the market at approximately $7.8bn.


According to Moscow’s Prosecutor Sergei


Kudeneyev, nearly 600 illegal gambling estab- lishments were discovered in the first six months of 2013, twice the number in the same period of 2012.


AGBrief visited one such underground casino in Pyatnitskaya Street last April, before it was shut down in July. The casino was inside an old three- storey building, just 50 metres from the site of a local police station.


To enter, a special password, a thorough security check and casino tokens worth a minimum of US$300 were required. There was a room with


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