Russia, gaming policy, gaming industry, community relations, ethnographic content analyses, anti-gambling movements
Original Research Article
In an era of widespread gaming expansion, Russia's recent decision to contract its gaming industry stands out as a global anomaly. This article explores factors informing the 2009 restriction of gambling venues in Russia to four remote zones. After a brief discussion of gambling prohibition history across cultures, a genealogical analysis of the origins and development of gaming laws in Russia follows. The authors then use a qualitative content analysis technique to examine the rationales for this contraction that were expressed in Russian news outlets between 2003 and 2010 - the period when the new restrictions were debated, voted on, and enacted. This analysis revealed four major rationales cited by the media: 1) alleged ties between gambling and organized crime, 2) social cost themes associated with addiction and related problems with youth in Russia, 3) gambling's enforcement of class boundaries, and 4) the protection of a Russian national identity. The results help us better understand anti-gambling arguments generally, and the unique dynamics of Russia's crackdown in particular.