Underground casinos raided in crackdown on gaming in Moscow

 

Moscow

Russian authorities raided an underground casino in the very centre of Moscow this week, as part of a drive to crack down on illegal gambling dens in the country. Gambling has been banned in Russia for the past two years, and in recent months there has been a wave of raids on underground casinos, and arrests of the officials who provided them with cover.

Russian media showed footage of the aftermath of this week's raid, with gaming tables overturned and decks of cards left out. The casino was in an apartment that had been refurbished with luxury fittings, and was hidden behind several locked, coded doors. Police said they believed the casino had previously operated in a central Moscow hotel, and had moved to the apartment when the gambling ban came in.

Until two years ago, there were casinos and slot-machine halls operating all over Moscow. The Novy Arbat thoroughfare was lined with gaudy casinos that were frequented by high rollers, while lowlier Muscovites whiled away hours feeding coins into slot machines in the hope of a big win. That ended in summer 2009, withthe ban.

The idea was that all gambling in Russia would move to four specially designated zones, spread across the country, each of which was supposed to become a mini Las Vegas. However, the zones are located away from big cities, and companies have been reluctant to invest in them.

Instead, it appears that businessmen found it easier and more profitable to keep the old casinos running in new, secret locations. In the past months, a number of top ranking officials in the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor's Office have been arrested for providing cover to these illegal gambling operations, many of which had been relocated to small towns outside Moscow.

Also arrested was Briton Darren Keane, who worked for casino company Storm International. Mr Keane's company had run a series of casinos in Moscow and across the former Soviet Union, including the Shangri-La, a garish, enormous casino in the central Pushkin Square, which was one of the best known casinos in the Russian capital before the ban came into place.

Mr Keane, 43, was arrested in June and has been held in a pre-trial detention centre in Moscow. Earlier this week he was released but has been placed under house arrest. He faces up to five years in jail if found guilty.

As is often the case in Russian "clean-up" operations, it is unclear whether the recent spate of casino raids and high-level arrests is a genuine attempt to stamp out illegal gambling, or simply a settling of scores among different interest groups within the authorities.

The tabloid press has been awash with stories of avarice among civil servants and prosecutors, who allegedly demanded expensive watches, exotic holidays and cash payments from casino operators.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits