Russian casinos

Since 2002, Russia has become a truly casino nation. Moscow alone, which had 30 casinos in 2002, has almost double that number today. But many American visitors would be a bit surprised by what they found behind the doors of a Moscow gambling house: Victorian decor…and arm wrestling?

From the Houston Chronicle:

The new Casino Angara on Moscow’s neon-flooded Novy Arbat street is the latest bet that this country’s love affair with gambling is a sure thing.

The casino, which opened in February, has 32 tables and 69 slot machines on a floor that is aiming for a 19th century gentleman’s club atmosphere with its red carpeting, dark wood paneling and lamp light.

The VIP rooms behind heavy brown curtains, where the minimum bet is $200, are called the “The Study” and “The Library.” The casino also stages cockfights and arm-wrestling.

“Nice place. Not bad,” said Mikhail Kustanovic, 33, a self-described high roller who favors blackjack and poker. “But in Moscow there is so much choice.”

Gambling has exploded in Russia in the past three years, particularly in Moscow.

A $5 billion annual business, it draws punters to ritzy establishments such as the Angara but also to the one-ruble slots in small arcades that increasingly dot city neighborhoods.

“This business has just started to grow,” said Yulia Drynkina, marketing director of the Angara.

Another luxury casino is scheduled to open on the Arbat next year, and a new arcade opens in Moscow almost every day, according to city officials. – Gambling proves a tough hand to beat in Russia

I can understand cockfighting, which has been a gambling sport for thousands of years. But arm wrestling? On the other hand, they have been showing Over the Top incessantly on HBO lately–maybe that’s where the inspiration comes from.

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