[JURIST] A Russian law outlawing gambling in most of the country went into effect Wednesday, with authorities shutting down casinos and confiscating gambling machines. The law, passed [NYT report] in 2007, bans gaming in Russia's cities and towns, but designates some remote areas [BBC report] of the country where gambling is still allowed, including Primorye and Siberia. Industry representatives estimated [CSM report] that 450,000 casino jobs would be lost nationwide, with a $1 billion loss in taxes. A poll published [RIA Novosti report] on Monday found 72 percent of Russian city-dwellers in favor of the measure.
Gambling has become a central part of the Russian urban landscape, as Western-style capitalism replaced Soviet anti-gaming regulations. In 2006, then-president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [official website] likened gambling addiction to alcoholism and said that tough measures were needed to curb Russians' appetite for gambling. The Duma [official website, in Russian], Russia's lower house of parliament, first considered [RFE report] the bill in later that year.