Monday, June 29, 2009

Banishing casinos to the Russian hinterlands

The headline in today's New York Times is "Exiled by Russia: Casinos and Jobs," and in it Clifford J. Levy reports that the Kremlin has ordered all casinos in the country closed on Wednesday, July 1. The rural angle comes in where they may reopen. Levy reports:
[T]he Kremlin has offered the gambling industry only one option for survival: relocate to four regions in remote areas of Russia, as many as 4,000 miles from the capital. The potential marketing slogans — Come to the Las Vegas of Siberia! Have a Ball near the North Korean Border! — may not sound inviting, but that is in part what the government envisions.

All the same, none of the four regions are prepared for the transfer, and no casino is expected to reopen for several years.
Levy does not explain why the Russian government has decided to re-locate casinos to four particular regions, all of which are spatially removed from Russia's major cities, and three of which are in some ways rural: the Altai region of Siberia; the coastal area of the Far East, near the border with North Korea and China; and the Azov Sea region in the south. The fourth, more populous region, is Kaliningrad, a pocket of Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea. See a map here (note that the coastal area in Russia's Far East is so far away that it is not even shown on this map!) . Perhaps this reflects a rural development strategy by the Kremlin, but one half-baked and ill-conceived in terms of timing (and arguably in other ways, too).


artemis said...

The government thought gambling was gettting out of hand (slot machines on street corners: and so decided to shut them down without actually banning it completely. I think they chose rural areas because they wouldn't have to worry about as much organized crime or foreign influence in their cities. Though if any of those sites DO take off then they may have a fun time regulating them.

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