New legislation comes soon after country's casino ban

Less than a month after the Russian government effectively shut down the country’s flourishing casino industry, President Dmitry Medvedev has signed into law a bill that allows bookmaking at state and municipal racetracks.

The change was introduced by deputies from two pro-government parties in the state Duma, which passed the bill last week, followed by the Federation Council over the weekend, according to a report in The Moscow Times.

Under the law, bookmakers and private betting offices must obtain a license to operate outside the four remote gambling zones to which casinos have been exiled. Two of the largest privately owned hippodromes, in Rostov-on-Don and Pyatigorsk, have already received licenses.

There are 40 racecourses in Russia, of which nine are private. Private racetracks were allowed to keep bookies, which play a major role in the industry’s income, estimated at anywhere from 40 percent to 70 percent.