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Russia (Rossiya), also the Russian Federation, Rossiyskaya Federatsiya; listen is a transcontinental country extending over much of northern Eurasia (Europe and Asia). With an area of 17,075,400 km², Russia is the largest country in the world, covering almost twice the total area of the next-largest country, Canada, and has unparalleled mineral and energy resources combined with the world's ninth-largest population. Russia shares land borders with the following countries (counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast): Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It is also close to the United States (the state of Alaska), Sweden, and Japan across relatively small stretches of water (the Bering Strait, the Baltic Sea, and La Pérouse Strait, respectively).

Formerly the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), a republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Russia became the Russian Federation following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. After the Soviet era, more than half of the area, population, and industrial production of the Soviet Union (then one of the world's two Cold War superpowers, the other one being the United States) passed on to the Russian Federation.

Russia is considered to be an energy superpower. Russia is internationally recognized as continuing the legal personality of the Soviet Union and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It is also one of the five recognised nuclear weapons states and possesses the world's largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is the leading nation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and a member of the G8 as well as other international organizations.

Geography

The Russian Federation stretches across much of the north of the super-continent of Eurasia. Because of its size, Russia displays both monotony and diversity. As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances. From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and broad-leaf forests, grassland (steppe), and semi-desert (fringing the Caspian Sea) as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but is taiga

Topography

The two widest separated points in Russia are about 8,000 km (5,000 mi) apart along a geodesic (i.e. shortest line between two points on the Earth's surface). These points are: the boundary with Poland on a 60 km long (40-mi long) spit of land separating the Gulf of Gdansk from the Vistula Lagoon; and the farthest southeast of the Kurile Islands, a few miles off Hokkaido Island, Japan. The points which are furthest separated in longitude are 6,600 km (4,100 mi) apart along a geodesic. These points are: in the West, the same spit; in the East, the Big Diomede Island (Ostrov Ratmanova). The Russian Federation spans eleven time zones.

Russia has the world's largest forest reserves and is known as "the lungs of Europe," second only to the Amazon Rainforest in the amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs. It provides a huge amount of oxygen for not just Europe, but the world. With access to three of the world's oceans—the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific—Russian fishing fleets are a major contributor to the world's fish supply. The Caspian is the source of what is considered the finest caviar in the world.

Most of Russia consists of vast stretches of plains that are predominantly steppe to the south and heavily forested to the north, with tundra along the northern coast. Mountain ranges are found along the southern borders, such as the Caucasus (containing Mount Elbrus, Russia's and Europe's highest point at 5,642 m / 18,511 ft) and the Altai, and in the eastern parts, such as the Verkhoyansk Range or the volcanoes on Kamchatka. The Ural Mountains form a north-south range that divides Europe and Asia, rich in mineral resources. Russia possesses 8.9% of the world's arable land.

Russia has an extensive coastline of over 37,000 kilometers (23,000 mi) along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Baltic, Black and Caspian seas. The Barents Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan are linked to Russia.

Major islands and archipelagos include Novaya Zemlya, the Franz Josef Land, the New Siberian Islands, Wrangel Island, the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. The Diomede Islands (one controlled by Russia, the other by the United States) are just three kilometers (1.9 mi) apart, and Kunashir Island (controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan) is about twenty kilometers (12 mi) from Hokkaido.

Russia has thousands of rivers and inland bodies of water, providing it with one of the world's largest surface water resources. The most prominent of Russia's bodies of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the world's deepest and most capacious freshwater lake. Lake Baikal alone contains over one fifth of the world's fresh surface water.

Many rivers flow across Russia; see Rivers of Russia. Of its 100,000 rivers, Russia contains some of the world's longest. The Volga is the most famous—not only because it is the longest river in Europe but also because of its major role in Russian history. Major lakes include Lake Baikal, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega; see List of lakes in Russia. Russia has a wide natural resource base including major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, timber and mineral resources unmatched by any other country.

Climate

Owing to its size, Russia's climate also displays both monotony and diversity. The climate of the Russian Federation formed under the influence of several determining factors. One of the most important is the enormous size and remoteness of many areas from the sea, resulting in the dominance of the continental climate, which is prevalent in European and Asian Russia except for the tundra and the extreme southeast. Mountains in the south obstructing the flow of warm air masses from the Indian Ocean and the plain of the west and north makes the country open to Arctic and Atlantic influences.

Throughout much of the territory there are only two distinct seasons—winter and summer; Spring and autumn are usually brief periods of change between extremely low temperatures and extremely high. The coldest month is January (on the shores of the sea—February), the warmest usually is July. Great ranges of temperature are typical. In winter temperatures get colder both from south to north and from west to east. Summers can be quite hot and humid, even in Siberia. A small part of Black Sea coast around Sochi is considered in Russia to have subtropical climate. The continental interiors are the driest areas. (Credit: Wikipedia).

News

TV and London Offer Gambling Fi, by Anna Malpas / The Moscow Times -
7th July 2009

(Credit: The Moscow Times)

A week after gambling was banned in Moscow, viewership for televised poker shows is climbing, a London casino is offering to send private jets for big-spending gamblers and gambling addicts are calling a hotline to complain that they can still find places to bet.

A federal law banished casinos and slot machines to four far-flung Russian regions last Wednesday, and 95 percent of casinos and slot machine halls had removed their equipment by Monday morning, Deputy Mayor Sergei Baidakov told RIA-Novosti.

Police are on the lookout for illegal establishments, and a raid at the Luzhniki market Saturday led to the confiscation of 18 slot machines, he said.

Police were called Monday to a Zolotoi Arbuz slot machine hall near the Petrovsko-Razumovskaya metro station that was continuing to operate in defiance of the ban, City FM reported.

The ban does not apply to lotteries, bookmakers and poker clubs, leading to predictions that the popularity of poker will soar. Ren-TV television started a poker show called “Poker Stars” in October last year and saw its audience grow over the season, spokesman Anton Nazarov said. “There’s no doubt that the predicted growth of interest in poker as a sport in our country will attract new viewers,” Nazarov said.

Television is “one of the best ways to market poker,” said Erik Shakhbazyan, CEO of Poker Style Group, which broadcasts a twice-weekly show on television channel Sport. Ratings are “very good,” he said.

But Shakhbazyan was skeptical about gamblers switching to poker en masse.

“Of course new players will come to poker who used to go to casinos, but not a big number,” he said. “Poker is a more intellectual game. To play slot machines, you don’t need to know anything.”

Kommersant reported Monday that CTC Media was planning a television show about poker with French-owned production company Intelegencia. But CTC Media’s general producer, Vyacheslav Murugov, said the plans had been frozen. “A little time ago, our holding held talks with the company Intelegencia on this question, but at the moment we have halted this process,” he said, without elaborating.

Moscow City Hall has set up a hotline for people to report on illegal gambling at (495) 633-6262. An operator who answered Monday afternoon said she had received 40 calls so far that day.

“It’s either people who notice that something is open, or [gambling] addicts themselves call up to say they thought that everything would be closed but they see that it’s not the case,” she said.

She said that addicts complained because they thought would be able to give up because there would be nowhere to bet, but that has not turned out to be true.

In his first remarks since the ban came into effect, President Dmitry Medvedev likened gambling to drug addiction in a speech shown by video link at the Seliger camp for pro-Kremlin youth activists over the weekend.

“In our country, unfortunately in the years of our new life, a huge quantity of gambling establishments were created where people spent hours frittering away their money,” Medvedev said. “This kind of addiction is very similar to drug dependence, and our task today is to create modern conditions so that such a business can only exist in restricted gaming zones.”

Meanwhile, a London casino, Les Ambassadeurs Club, has reacted to the ban by putting together a package aimed specifically at Russian high-rollers. Gamblers can pay from $8,000 per person to fly from Moscow by private jet and then be chauffeured to the casino, said the club’s spokesman, James Black. “Obviously, with the casino closures in Moscow, those who want to play roulette and traditional casino games can be interested,” Black said. “We’re happy if the big players from Moscow want to come.”

 

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