January 7, 2013 : SERIOUS PERSONAL CONSEQUENCES FOR RUSSIA'S PROBLEM GAMBLERS
 
A draconian remedy for addictive gambling
 
The Russian government is about to apply severe ‘remedies' to discourage problem gambling, according to an RT News report over the weekend, which claims that gambling addicts now face very serious personal consequences that go beyond losing money and possibly family.
 
The country's lawmakers have adopted amendments to existing laws stipulating that gambling addiction is a legal basis for restricting a person's rights and freedoms.
 
The amended legalization empowers the authorities to rule citizens incompetent if they place their families into difficult financial situations due to a gambling addiction, alcohol abuse or drug addiction.
 
The incompetent person can then be put under guardianship, in which the guardian would have the responsibility of controlling the individual's finances, whether the source is a salary, pension or other form of income.
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the amendments last Friday, and these will come into effect as soon as they are published. RT News reports that similar legalization was introduced in Ukraine last year: If an individual there is found incompetent due to a gambling addiction, their relatives may seek guardianship and control over their financial transactions.
 
"In other countries, gambling addiction is fought in less radical ways, such as counselling, peer-support programs and other forms of therapy," the publication notes.
 
Russians are not unaccustomed to heavy-handed government actions; back in 2009 the government implemented a ban on casinos and gambling clubs, banishing gambling action to four remote geographical parts of the vast country. The ban was a severe blow to the country's gambling industry, with many casinos moving abroad and others going underground.