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Moscow closes over 1,000 casinos in 18 months

Nov 29, 2008 1:45 AM

by GT Staff |

The RIA Novosti news and information agency in Russia on Friday reported that over 1,000 casinos in Moscow have been closed down over the past 18 months under a new law passed last year to try and move gambling from large cities to far-flung regions, according to a Moscow government official.

Under the new law approved by parliament and signed by then-Russian president Vladimir Putin, casinos in the capital city and other cities are to scheduled to disappear completely by next July. The law was designed in an effort to try and curb the nation’s growing addiction to gambling,

A government official told RIA Novosti, "In the past year and a half, more than 1,000 stores, art galleries, libraries, children's organizations, and clinics have opened in the city as a result of the closures of casinos."

Casinos will only be allowed now in designated areas of the Altai Territory , Siberia, the Far Eastern Primoriye region, the Baltic exclave Kaliningrad , and in southern Russia , all low-income regions.

Authors of the law said the move will fight gambling addiction in major cities and boost economic development in the poorer regions. Critics of the plan have said that city budgets will lose billions of dollars in tax revenues and predicted a rise in illegal gambling in Moscow because of the law.

Investment in projects to build gambling sites in the designated regions has been slow, with the financial crisis tightening its grip on local governments and businesses.