The draconian Russian ban on gambling in major cities which came into effect this week has thrown an interesting anomaly in Russia law into sharp focus, reports The Telegraph newspaper.
The reports says that many Russian operators are considering re-fashioning themselves into poker clubs under a quirk of Russian law that officially recognises poker as a sport rather than a game of chance.
It is unknown for how long the Russian government will allow this legal loophole to exist, but if pursued it could save some of the estmated 400 000 jobs that operators claim the gambling ban will inflict as a loss on the national economy.
Operating to the July 1st deadine for the implementation of the ban, a special task force is currently ensuring compliance with the law and has been set up in the Russian capital, a spokeswoman for the Moscow city government, Maria Sokolova, told RIA-Novosti news agency this week.
Starting July 1 casinos may only operate in four remote regions of Russia, each of them at least 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from Moscow and some much further.
The gambling law is expected to have the biggest impact on Moscow, which had 524 casinos and gaming halls until the law took effect, and the northern city of Saint Petersburg, which had 109.