Luck may run out for Russia's casinos

Russian companies aren't the only ones betting against the plan. Only one of 10 U.S. and Asian firms polled by Spectrum had any interest, Weinert says.

And that was before the current global financial meltdown and low oil prices that are draining Russia's foreign account balances and making the country a less enticing place to invest.

Boettcher questions whether big-city gamblers would spend five hours traveling to Azov City.

"If gamblers would travel anywhere," he says, "it will be to established gaming venues like London, Kiev, Riga, Prague, Athens (or) Bucharest."

Igor Shevchenko, 45, works for a Moscow publishing firm and was gambling recently at the stately Metropol Club in the shadow of Red Square. He wagers up to $500 about three days a week. If the casinos close next year, he will look elsewhere for action.

"I think people will go underground to play in illegal dens," he says. "I was already invited to play in one. I know they exist."

Stinson reported from London. Contributing: Wire reports

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