Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bucking Hedonistic Globalization, Russian President Putin Presses Russian Federation To Banish Casinos From Central Moscow And Saint Petersburg

"Could there be a better symbol for the new Moscow — seductive, indulgent, awash in got-quick riches — than the casino?

There are more than 60 of them in the city now, neon palaces of capitalist glitter and risk that have become as ubiquitous as the onion domes of Russian Orthodoxy. One major street, Novy Arbat, has more than a passing resemblance to the Las Vegas Strip, and even a casino called the Mirage.

There is just one cloud on this rosy horizon: they are all to be closed, though perhaps not for a while.

Pressed by President Vladimir V. Putin, the only political authority that matters anymore, lawmakers are drafting a law that would banish casinos, slot-machine parlors and other gambling halls from Moscow, though they could be allowed to operate in a few other places.

Unless lawmakers buck Mr. Putin, which has yet to happen, the new law would do more to alter the cityscape of Moscow than any other since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet government banned gambling — even playing cards in public — until the end of the 1980s and, perhaps not coincidentally, the end of its history.

The first big casinos followed hard on the Soviet collapse, but they have proliferated since 2001, when an easing of licensing rules coincided with Russia’s growing economic boom, creating a frenzy of easily disposed income. Industry officials here estimate that nearly $6 billion is spent on gambling each year in Russia.

Moscow now has more casinos than any other city except Las Vegas and Miami, according to the World Casino Directory, an online industry association. (St. Petersburg is sixth.)" ...

Steven Lee Myers "Rife as Onion Domes, Moscow’s Casinos Face Closing" New York Times November 2, 2006

Photo credit: (c) digenis photos. With thanks.


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