Thursday, November 3, 2011 : Thousands of jobs probably lost as companies were shut down by Putin decree
Russia's 2009 ban on gambling in all but four isolated regions continues to have a massive impact on the sector, as a police report illustrated this week.
The Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper quoted a senior national police official who revealed that almost 4 000 illegal casinos and over 25,000 gambling parlours have been closed down since the ban was imposed.
“As of today, 3,900 illegal casinos and more than 25,000 gambling joints, posing as lottery clubs, have been closed down,” Sergei Ivanov, a head of a department at Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office said in an interview.
“More than 390,000 pieces of gambling equipment have been confiscated and the amount of fines has topped 91 million rubles [$3 million],” Ivanov added.
The official said 1,100 criminal cases have been launched against the suspected organisers of illegal gambling businesses.
Underground casinos have mushroomed across Russia since the law banning gambling everywhere except in four remote zones of the country came into force in July 2009.
In a crackdown in February this year (see previous InfoPowa report), illegal casino owner Ivan Nazarov, his assistants, and three high-ranking police officials who allegedly protected the illegal business were accused of fraud and remanded pending investigation. The case has sparked a high-profile conflict between the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office.
In related news, the Kyrgyzstan parliament's ban on gambling voted in September this year is likely to be costly, according to the Minister for Finance, who this week estimated the loss to the fiscus at 500 million Kyrgyz som (around Euro 8 million)
The law is due to come into force on 1 January, 2012 in the Central Asian nation, depriving thousands of people of jobs. There have been mass demonstrations in the capital Bishkek to protest against the passage of the law. Protesters held placards saying "Deputies, Stop Destroying the Economy", "By Closing Casinos You Will Lose Millions in Taxes" and "Fight Gambling Barons, Not Casino Personnel".