According to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, three years of skirmishing between authorities and illegal operators have resulted in the closure of more than 36,000 black market gambling dens and 420 casinos. More than 550,000 pieces of gambling equipment have been seized, more than 53 million rubles has been confiscated (US.6 million), and more than 174 million rubles collected in fines.
In July 2009 a federal law pushed by President Vladimir Putin and passed by the State Duma banished Russia’s flourishing casino industry from major cities and restricted their operations to four special gambling “zones” in outlying parts of the country. In essence, the industry was exiled, and the effect has been one of a near total ban. An explosion of underground operations quickly followed.
One of the most high-profile crackdowns occurred six months ago when an illegal casino ring was uncovered in 15 towns around Moscow. The operation, reported to be netting $5 million-$10 million a month, allegedly was run by a prominent businessman, with several high-ranking Interior Ministry and law enforcement officials involved.