Casino activity can be difficult to track throughout the world, as governments tend to have a say in the matter. In much of the world, and specifically much of Europe, gambling activity remains mostly legal, and accordingly, there are casinos operating openly.
In Russia, however, things are a little bit different. The country passed laws to outlaw casino gaming throughout the entire country, with the exclusion of four designated regions. This more or less killed the casino business in Russia just a few decades after it got off the ground.
The ban of casino play largely extends to the internet, which is significant particularly given Europe’s general acceptance of gambling sites. Online websites based in the UK allow users to discover the latest slot games on a consistent basis, with some titles having been adapted from real life slot machines and others being originally developed by online game makers. Other sites all over Europe host poker tournaments that most anyone can dive in on, provided they’re playing from a location where gambling activity is not outlawed. But in Russia, the goal appears to be to ban access to all of these kinds of online casinos, though the enforcement of this ban appears to be somewhat sporadic.
If you’re actually traveling to Russia, however, you probably want to know where you can enjoy a casino in person.
Are there any casinos in Moscow and St. Petersburg? And where is the best place to gamble in Russia? You’ll find out answers to these popular questions below.
You Won’t Find a Casino in Moscow & St. Petersburg
Yeah, the answer is very short – there is no place to gamble in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Maybe, things might change in the future, but as of now, casinos are not allowed in the two most popular Russian cities.
I feel like the Russian government is missing out on this one big time. Can you imagine how popular it would be if there was a nice big casino in Moscow?! And it would bring so much money for the city budget which they could spend on better things.
4 Places to Gamble in Russia
Anyway, where could you find a casino in Russia? Well, as I stated earlier, there are four designated regions the country where casino activity has remained legal: Altai Republic, Krasnodar Krai, Kaliningrad Oblast, and Primorsky Krai. Let’s find out a little bit more about these places.
- Altai Republic
Altai is a relatively small region in the Russian Siberia. It’s very well-known for its beautiful natural landmarks such as Lake Teletskoye, Mount Belukha, and Chulyshman Valley. In fact, it’s quite a nice destination for outdoor activities (hiking, bungee jumping, kayaking, horseback riding, etc.).
The Altai Republic of Russia is also home to the “Altai Palace Casino”, which is located in Gorno-Altaysk. The Altai Palace Casino was opened in 2014 and it offers to the visitor’s roulette tables, poker room, blackjack, baccarat, and more than 100 slots to play.
- Krasnodar Krai & Sochi
Krasnodar is perhaps a more traditionally appealing region for travelers as it is located in the European part of Russia. This gambling zone includes complex “Azov city” and the city of Sochi, which was made particularly famous when it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Sochi is the place where you’ll find the largest and the most popular casino in Russia – “Sochi Casino and Resort”. This is the newly built casino complex (it was opened in 2017) where you can play Blackjack, hold em poker, roulette or one of the 569 slots games.
“Sochi Casino and Resort” is the first casino in Sochi and there are plans to open more casinos in the city in the near future. In the next few years, Sochi will become one of the biggest gambling destinations in Europe!
- Kaliningrad Oblast
The Kaliningrad Oblast is effectively a Russian exclave located between Lithuania and Poland. As such it is arguably the most accessible part of Russia to travelers from Europe, though it tends to be a fairly light tourist area.
There are some intriguing old cathedrals and museums to enjoy, though the casino may just be the main attraction in the area. Known as “Sobranie Casino”, it’s the most popular casino in Kaliningrad Oblast with 350 gaming machines and several poker rooms, roulette and blackjack tables.
- Primorsky Krai
Primorsky Krai is about as far from Kaliningrad as it could possibly be, situated on the Pacific coast of Russia across from Japan. It’s mostly marked by the port city of Vladivostok, which is the biggest city in the region.
Vladivostok is also becoming something of a hub for gambling with some casinos built and more on the way. It could wind up being the main casino center in Russia, perhaps to rival some of the other casino hot spots in Southeast Asia, like Macau.
The only casino in Primorsky Krai at the moment is “Tigre de Cristal” which was opened in 2016. There are a few more casinos will be built in 2017-2020.
As you can see, there are quite a few casinos recently opened in Russia. You can’t gamble in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but there are casinos in Altai, Sochi, Kaliningrad, and Vladivostok. And who knows, maybe Russia will soon become a popular gambling destination among visitors from all over the world.