As you’ve heard by now, casinos and other gaming joints were closed in Russia July 1, effectively ending all forms of legalized gambling in the country. The government, however, has designated some far away zones — parts of Siberia, for one — where gambling will be legal. Click here to read a July 22 New York Times piece on the subject. There’s been no betting at the races, either, because the law is applicable to bookmakers, too. However, it’s been reported in Russian publications that on July 18, the upper house of the Russian Parliament approved a bill that would allow the state-controlled Russian racetracks to legally accept wagering. Apparently the last step for this to happen is for Russian president Dmitri A. Medvedev to sign it into law, which, according to papers, is imminent. Once this happens, the state will control the only form of legalized gambling in the country outside of the “gambling zones” in the hinterland.
Last Sept. 12, buried deep in a Daily Racing Form article by Glenye Cain Oakford about increased Russian participation at the Keeneland September yearlings sales, this unfolding scenario was actually explained. Glenye, whose source was French Bloodstock Agency’s Jean-Pierre Deroubaix, wrote: “Second, a Russian law banning bookmakers in favor of a national tote system is set to take effect in 2009. That, horsemen believe, will provide a larger, more consistent source of funding for Russian purses.”
Deroubaix, a consultant to Russia’s ministry of agriculture, was quoted in the same article as saying: ” ‘”I tried to convince them that this is the only way to increase prize money and to clean the place, to make sure there is no “black” betting, so that the government can control the whole operation.’ ”
Apparently Deroubaix has clout. His firm, FBA, is under contract with the Pyatigorsk Racecourse in Russia, which has installed a new synthetic surface and made other improvements under his direction, and he also has a deal to develop a new racetrack in Siberia. Deroubaix, by the way, also was the agent involved in the sale of Epsom Derby third Masterofthehorse (see post below) to Qatar, where he’s involved in setting up a National Stud.