Before delving into the history of gambling in Russia, let’s inform you at the outset that gambling was banned almost all over Russia in the year 2009. At present it is legal only in the four authorised regions of the country which are Prmorsky Krai, Krasnodar Krai, Altai Krai and Kaliningrad Oblast. Two more regions Soch and Crimea were added to this list in 2014.
If you’re a Russian resident and are keen on gambling, but don’t want to travel to any of these regions, the best you could do for yourself is build a casino-themed man cave for yourself, where you can hold private poker parties for your family and dear ones. Onto the history now!
Gambling history of Russia
The history of gambling in Russia goes all the way back to the initial days after the 1917 Russian Revolution. By the end of 1927, a report was presented by the People’s Commissar of the Interior to the RSFSR SPC, focused on the gaming business and gambling happening during those days. The primary motive of this report was to highlight its incompatibility with the true spirit of the working class.
As a result, opening up of gambling houses in the worker districts got banned, followed by a complete ban on gambling in all the districts. On May 8, 1928, a resolution was passed by the USSR SPC, as per which all the Soviet Republics were sent out strict instructions, without any explanation or reason, to immediately close any facilities offering roulette, card games, lotto or any other type of gambling service.
Soviet State had in fact created a penal policy ensuring that there was a complete ban on all types of gambling activities and gaming houses, making provisions for criminal sanctions throughout the country, and modifying the state policies too, in that regard. Later on, restrictions were placed on lotteries as well.
Revival of gambling in Russia
While gambling was again banned in Russia in 2009, it had made a sort of a revival from 1988 till 2009. The first slot machines started making a lawful appearance in Russia, after a long time, in the year 1988. These were installed in hotels that were a part of the State Committee of Foreign Tourism of USSR. However, private businesses were not given any access to the gambling operations. Everything was done and maintained by the Soviet authorities.
Finally, the ban on gambling was lifted by the Soviet government on August 23, 1989, with the opening of Moscow’s first gambling house. It was the first casino to be opened in Moscow, in the Savoy Hotel of the capital city. Poker became extremely popular in Russia after the collapse of the USSR, during a time when people were increasingly drifting towards the Western values and cultures. Poker could only be indulged in a casino or the cellar clubs in the Soviet Union. Additionally, players could often be seen gathering together and holding private poker parties in their flats. There were some attempts to hold poker tournaments during the latter part of the 1990s, however, the idea didn’t gain much popularity.