Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law December 30, which regulates the activities of casinos and envisages the creation of four special gambling zones. The law also outlaws online gambling and online poker, and sets the minimum gambling age of 18 years.
The bill had sailed through the Federation Council (upper parliament house) without opposition on December 27, 2006. The State Duma (lower parliament house) had already approved it last December 20.
The sites where the zones are planned are now infrastructure-free wilderness, and all are distant from Moscow, the capital: the Altai Territory (southwest Siberia), Primorye (Far East), the Kaliningrad Region (Russia“s exclave on the Baltic Sea), and on the border of the Rostov Region and the Krasnodar Territory in the south of the country.
“The federal law is aimed at introducing a new regime of the state regulation of the activities for organizing and playing gambling. Special gambling zones are planned to be created, where the activities for organizing and playing gambling will be permitted,” the press service said.
After July 1, 2009, any gaming facility operating outside of the four approved gambling zones will be banned. „Bookmaker’s offices and pari- mutuels will make an exception in the law and will be able to conduct their activities outside gambling zones,“ the press service pointed out. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, casinos mushroomed in Russia’s major cities and slot-machine halls have sprouted throughout the country.
“Gambling zones can be set up on the land not belonging to settlements. Meanwhile, plots of land, on which gambling zones will be opened, will pass into possession or be rented by people concerned,” the presidential press service remarked.
Their prevalence has sparked resentment among some Russians who recoil at the sight of flashy cars parked outside flashier casinos, worries about gambling addiction and concerns about the lifestyles of young people, whom Putin has urged to live healthy and productive lives.