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04 Jul 09 Eastern Europe Casinos and Gambling

There are 18 countries in Eastern Europe that have casino gambling including Russia which has the most and estimates of Moscow casinos reach 200 or more. Things are changing though in Moscow and casinos are being forced to move out of the city to far flung outposts within the next 2 years. Slovenia holds the largest casino and there are over 20 poker rooms in Poland, so certainly casinos still operates in Eastern Europe. Less than 20 years ago, under the old Soviet system, casinos were hardly heard of, or non existent in Eastern Europe. After the fall of the Berlin wall casinos sprouted up quite rapidly starting in Poland, 1989, and spreading eastwards. There is hardly a country in the region now that does not enjoy casino gaming with even impoverished Albania opening a high class Regency casino in it’s capital Tirana in the last 2 years.

Major gaming groups such as Cherry Foretagen and Casinos Austria led the way opening casinos across Eastern Europe and since casinos have become established major players such as Olympic and HIT casinos have taken over as the major operators. Different from other parts of the world casinos are mainly for pure gambling entertainment but things are about to change with Sol Kerzner heading a consortium to build Europe’s first truly gaming resort which will include 5 casinos in Hungary. Hungary is about the only casino in the region where casino numbers have gone down in the period and at present have only 6 casinos. There is pari-mutuel gambling in Eastern Europe (grehounds and horse racing), too, and horse racing, “The sport of Kings” is prevalent throughout the Eastern bloc and has been for many more years than casino gambling. Poker has been very popular in the region long before many other areas of the world. Cosmos casino in Moscow was holding International tournaments long before the worldwide poker craze started years ago. So poker players will easily find a game of Texas Hold’em with a little exploring of the local haunts — there is no shortage of poker here. In addition to poker there are also active lottery systems in place throughout Eastern European countries.

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