Russia Travel Blog | All about Russia in English



Russians And The Gambling Culture

Despite the prohibition of most casinos in Russia, this nation has a penchant for games of chance. Russians even have a special word to describe the feeling of excitement experienced when placing a bet or playing a game – azart. If you are wondering if they are a gambling nation, we have the answer.

Azart can refer to just about anything. It can be used to describe an argument between friends, a dare, a card game or any other thrilling situation. While Russians cannot play on popular sites like Captain Cooks casino, they have plenty of local options. For example, the most popular card game is called “Durak” (“the fool”).

Gambling culture in Russia, photo 1

Historical Perspective

Games of chance became quite popular in the 19th century, and the phenomenon was described in classic literary works. For example, the famous story by Alexander Pushkin, The Queen of Spades, which was turned into an opera by Petr Tchaikovsky, is a tragic story of a young engineer obsessed with finding the secret to winning a card game.

Gambling was one of the most prominent features of that era, and it had a special philosophy behind it. The games challenged players’ skills, but also depended on their luck – something that was beyond their control. In The Queen of Spades, the protagonist tries to get rid of uncertainty, and his downfall is inevitable. Other literary masterpieces that mentioned gambling include:

  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  • The Tambov Treasurer’s Wife by Mikhail Lermontov
  • The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Why Was Gambling Popular?

According to Yuri Lotman, a famous researcher of Russian literature, the gambling boom in the 19th century could be explained by the normalized and structured nature of personal lives. Russians craved uncertainty because the state and social systems dictated what they could and could not do.

The 1990s

This difficult transitional period was also marked by the growing popularity of gambling. Following the collapse of the USSR, casinos started springing up all across Russia. The times were troubling and uncertain, and gambling was often seen as an easy way to make money.

Gambling culture in Russia, photo 2

The Bottom Line

Today, gambling is legal in just 4 regional subject areas of Russia, but it does not mean this nation is not fascinating with games of chance. In different historical periods, passion for gambling had different underlying reasons, but one thing is certain. Sometimes, Russians do like to relax and experience azart.

This does not require risky activities or real-money bets. Azart can describe quite innocent hobbies and games. Even a board game night, or a simple game of Durak can give you this feeling. Russians do not need to visit a casino to challenge the Chance!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Tags: No tags



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply