Gambling for Peace

novyarbat062709'.jpgAs readers are likely well aware, Russia is shutting down most of its casinos this week under a new law that will isolate legal gambling facilities to just a handful of regions, far from the capital of Moscow.  This new piece from Tony Halpin in the Times of London sums up the story pretty well, and even points out that developers will be looking to pour billions into creating the next big Las Vegas-like equivalent destination for the punters of the East.  It occurs to me that if Georgia could develop a thriving casino industry, they could re-ignite the flow of Russian capital and help keep the peace.  As for all the leftover slot machines from Novy Arbat, perhaps United Russia could use them in their next primary elections.

Mr Putin insists that the measure will tackle a growing problem of gambling addiction among Russians and control an industry notorious for links with criminal gangs and moneylaundering. Critics argue that it will do the reverse, and simply drive gambling underground and into criminal control. (…)

Many casino operators plan to leave Russia, arguing that Government gambling zones — in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the Altai region of Siberia, the Far East area of Primoriye and around the Sea of Azov in southern Krasnodar region — will need $40 billion in investment to turn them into the Russian equivalents of Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Monte Carlo.

Mr Livingstone said that Metelitsa would examine opportunities in Kazakhstan, while others are looking to Armenia and Georgia.