Russian gaming market seeing changes

While Russia is restructuring gambling in the nation, it is opening up more to poker and possibly encouraging more tourism from Scandinavian casino gamers.

Russia recently passed new laws that would restrict casinos to certain zones in the nation. This was thought to be detrimental to the industry as Russia seeks to control it more, but it turns out it may actually help the country as a whole.

International Tour Consultants claims that one of the gambling zones, Kaliningrad, has the potential to become a lucrative market among Scandinavians. That could bring in more tourism money for Russia.

Kristian Nygard, founder and senior consultant of International Tourist Consultants, said that the strictly controlled gaming in several Scandinavian countries combined with good air and sea links between them and Kaliningrad provide a good environment for tourist growth.

This is good news for the country as it may have been worried about the loss of tax dollars from the gaming industry as it shifts casinos to a more restricted, regulated environment.

Tightening restrictions may not necessarily include poker, though. In mid March, Russian Sports Minister Slava Fetisov officially labeled poker a sport in Russia.

The decision could mean that casinos will no longer have to pay a $4,800 monthly per poker table fee that makes it expensive to offer the game. This could lead to a poker boom in the nation.

It could also mean that poker will not fall under the new gambling restrictions sponsored by President Vladimir Putin.

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