Gaming operators in southern Russia have reportedly sent a letter to local authorities and legislatures, and to the president’s envoy, asking for their support of a bill that would push back the coming casino closure law until 2012.
The bill was drawn up by the assembly of the Primorye Territory, which is one of the four zones where gambling will be legal as of July.
“The infrastructure of the Azov City gambling zone has not been built,” the operators said in the letter, referring to the Rostov-Krasnodar region. “Its construction cannot be accelerated due to the global financial crisis and the regional budgets’ deficits.”
The association warns of increased illegal gambling and unemployment as a result of closing existing gaming venues with no prepared replacements. About 30 percent of casinos have closed since January 2007.
Meanwhile, about a third of Moscow’s casinos will begin holding poker tournaments after the July deadline for stopping casino gaming, according to an unnamed source at the city’s Gaming Business Association.
While other countries still argue whether poker is a game of skill or a game of chance, Russia’s Federal Sports Agency decided in 2007 that poker is a sport. The order, signed by FSA head Vyacheslav Fetisov, officially added Texas hold’em, Omaha and seven-card stud to the All-Russia Registry of Sports.
The transformation is one option for casino operators, who are looking for new business directions for their properties when casino gaming activities are forced to a halt this summer.