Gambling has played a major role in Russian life since 1989, with high-rolling casinos—more than 30 in Moscow alone—echoing the cowboy capitalism of the post-Soviet years. But July 1, Russia is shutting down all gaming and slot machine halls, confining gambling to four Vegas-style zones across the country. Trouble is, as the Independent reports, the financial crisis has dried up investment, so none of the four is anywhere near completion.
The Russian government thought Vegas-on-the-Volga would be the ideal solution: it would remove gambling, and the Mafia-fueled crime that goes with it, from big cities while driving tourism to far-flung regions. Yet one of the zones has seen no construction at all, and cows graze where developers once envisioned neon and blackjack tables. In Moscow, at least one gambler is happy there won't be anywhere to go: "It's so (easy) to lose your money. It will be good not to have the temptation."