Poker's dealt the final blow

Gambling addicts, already reeling from the Government's banning of casinos in Russia, lost their final legal outlet to win or lose a few roubles this week, after Poker was added to the list of outlawed sports.

Following the general gambling ban introduced on 1st July casino owners were planning to turn their premises into poker halls. But the government, worried that this would simply be a front for illegal gambling dens, trumped any chances of this and closed the Poker loophole.

In a sign that the city government would take action against any venues that didn't comply, soon after the ban came into force the City Prosecutor's Office came down on five businesses in Moscow that were still operating poker tables. The ban has meant that the European Poker Tour event scheduled to run in the capital from 17 to 23 August has been cancelled. 500 players from around the world were to have taken part.

The ban of gambling was brought in to crack down on the corruption that has been such an endemic feature of casinos. It was proposed three years ago and stated that from 1st July, gambling would only be legal in four specially designated remote regions in the country. The gambling laws have had the biggest impact on Moscow, which had 524 casinos and 35,000 slot machines, and St Petersburg, which had 109.


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