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What Should Gamblers Know Before Taking a Trip to Russia?

Gambling has always been of interest to the people of Russia, but they have found it hard to access for most of history. For many years, casinos were banned throughout the country, and residents who wanted to stake on table games had to travel elsewhere to do so.

Indeed, this was the premise of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Gambler in 1887, which was set in the fictional city of Roulettenberg in Germany. Nowadays, it is possible to travel to Russia for a gambling holiday, as there are some casinos in certain areas of the country. But there are some things you need to know before you visit.

Map of gambling zones in Russia

Casinos Emerged After The Fall of The USSR

Although some casinos existed in Russia in the early 1900s, they were out of operation for the majority of the century. This was because gambling was outlawed during the Soviet Union. It wasn’t until 1989 that the government lifted its ban on gambling, and allowed for the opening of new casinos in the country.

Around this time, Russian culture started to gain more influence from the west. Poker, in particular, began to boom in popularity. People needed places to play the game, and this would be done at casinos or dedicated poker clubs. A lot of casino table games would be considered to go hand in hand with poker, so this also helped offerings like blackjack and roulette to get more widespread attention in the country.

Moscow Was Once Considered to be a Mini Las Vegas

Needless to say, as soon as gambling was legalized in Russia, casinos started cropping up like spring flowers emerging after a long winter. A lot of these were in Moscow, which started to gain a reputation as an eastern alternative to Las Vegas. Perhaps if developers had been allowed to build up this entertainment region for longer, it could be as big as the Nevada city by now. But, unfortunately, gambling was later regulated in the Russian capital in 2009.

Some of the old sites still exist, serving as a memory of what could have been. When casinos were first emerging in the 1990s, they showed so much promise. One of the most iconic gambling houses in the city was Metelitsa, which was first built in 1993. At first, it started as a dark and gloomy building in the middle of a small square. Over time, though, it became the most glamourous nightlife hotspot in Moscow. It attracted all the movers and shakers of the time, and every celebrity worth their salt made an appearance at the club.

Another one of the city’s top casinos was Beverly Hills, which was originally called the Firebird and opened in 1993. This was located in one of the 7 Stalin skyscrapers and was co-owned by many high profile American businesspeople including Donald Trump and the Mayor of Las Vegas, Jan Laverty Jones. This interest showed how many people thought that Moscow was going to emerge as one of the world’s primary gambling hotspots at the time.

The Golden Palace casino deserves a mention as well, as this was also a prime spot for some of the city’s most influential people. It was also known for paying out one of the biggest jackpots of the time, around $260,000 in 1996. The casino complex opened in 1994 and was located in a prime spot right next to the Belorussky Railway Station.

Some other notable casinos of the time included the Shangri-La, Jazz Town, and Crystal. These establishments were all lavish and luxurious and had the potential to become so much bigger had they been given time to grow. The burgeoning casino culture of the city was cut short by a law in 2006, just as it was beginning to gain global recognition.

Gambling Confined to Four Separate Regional Zones

It was decided that gambling would be outlawed in most of Russia, aside from four specific dedicated locations. The idea was that these areas would each be like a mini Las Vegas, attracting international visitors for gambling tourism. In practice, gambling zones in Russia are developing extremely slowly. Today, there are four operating gambling zones in the country: “Siberian Coin” in Altai Krai, “Primorye” in Primorsky Krai, “Yantarnaya” in Kaliningrad Oblast, and “Krasnaya Polyana” in Sochi.

Although some gamblers may want to visit these locations to get a unique gambling experience, most Russians do all of their stakings online these days. There are several sites that help people find the best online casinos in Russia, based on whether they accept players from the country and have bonuses geared towards them. Russian players face some difficulties when searching for sites to play at, so having a place that recommends the best one is useful. As it stands, this is the main way to play gambling games in the country, as many would say that the gambling locations are too far away from civilization.

Anyone interested in a gambling trip to Russia would have been better visiting during the golden period of the 1990s. It can be interesting to visit the old sites that used to attract so many players, though. On top of that, it is possible to go to the dedicated gambling spots in the country.

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