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Russian Roulette: Gambling the Soviet Way

Complete the picture – cold Serbian nights, stomach warming vodka and….?  My choice would definitely be a game of  cards around a poker table, huddled together with my comrades, wagering roubles until the morning light.  OK, sometimes my imagination runs wild – but you get the idea… gambling is, and always had been, part and parcel of Russia’s cultural landscape, ever since Tsar Peter the Great introduced a lottery in 1698.  Of course, gambling hasn’t always been warmly welcomed in Russia, especially during the Communist years when this type of pastime was severely frowned upon.  In fact, if players went in for a friendly game of poker, they could very well find themselves arrested and thrown into prison…I kid you not.

When changes started taking place in Russia in the 1980’s, gambling once again flourished, and there was no regulation to speak of which governed this industry.  As such, the industry became enormously lucrative, with everyone wanting a piece of the pie.  Operators made millions in profits, gamblers were spoiled for choice and business was booming.  Naturally, an unregulated industry also wasn’t the way to go, especially in a country of nearly 150 million people who were thirsty for change and freedom after so many years under Communist rule.  In 2006, Vladimir Putin decided that enough was enough and the President introduced sweeping changes to the gambling industry.  Some say that the changes were too drastic and, practically overnight, he banned all casinos, poker rooms and gambling halls from the main city centers, banishing them to four remote areas in the country. Two casino areas can be found in European Russia, one in Serbia and another in the Far East.

For Russians who were used to their gambling entertainment being practically under their noses in their cities of residence, these changes proved to be very difficult, and it came as no surprise that the number of Russians who took to online gambling climbed sky high after Putin’s reforms.  There are no specific rules governing online gambling in Russia, although there are also no state endorsed Russian language sites.  Those who want to wager at Russian sites need to access offshore sites, of which, thankfully there are many top quality ones.

Posted in Gambling, Online Casinos.

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