Posted on: February 24, 2022, 08:16h.
Last updated on: February 24, 2022, 08:58h.
Russia began its invasion of neighboring Ukraine early this morning, Eastern European Standard Time.
Many foreign policy experts believed Russian President Vladimir Putin would command his military forces to enter Ukraine’s eastern regions, where pro-Russian separatists have gained power. But the attack was much wider, as Russia instead launched a full-scale war on Ukraine.
Dozens of Ukrainians have been reported dead following an onslaught of explosions across the country, including in the Kyiv capital. Russian forces entered Ukraine from all sides of the Eastern European nation, which is the second-largest in Europe in terms of land area, behind only its attacker.
President Joe Biden called Putin’s assault an “unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law.
“As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history,” Zelenskyy declared. “Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom.”
Ukraine Shutters in Place
Zelensky urged for calm among his people, as Russian forces invade and leave devastation in their wake.
“Today, each of you should keep calm. Stay at home if you can. We are working. The army is working. The whole sector of defense and security is working,” Zelensky said in a video address. “No panic. We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will win … because we are Ukraine.”
Most nonessential businesses are closed throughout the country. That includes Ukraine’s poker and card clubs, as well as its lone casino — the Billionaire’s Casino in Kyiv.
The Billionaire’s Casino opened last July inside The InterContinental hotel, a historic building that dates back to 1638. It was the first casino with table games and slot machines to commence operations in Ukraine since Zelensky lifted the country’s ban on full-scale casinos in 2020. Small poker card clubs also operate in major cities across the country.
Billionaire Casino is shutting down due to martial law,” the casino said on its social media channels. “Stay tuned and stay calm.”
Zelensky, Putin Differ on Casinos
Zelensky and Putin have a myriad of political differences. While far less important than Putin’s belief that Ukraine belongs under Russian rule, the two leaders have greatly different views on casino gambling.
In 2009, Putin banned casino gambling most everywhere in Russia other than in four designated zones. Putin sought to create Russia’s own version of Macau or Las Vegas in Vladivostok’s Primorye Krai, a remote region in the Far East.
Russia’s planned Strip, however, hasn’t come anywhere close to conception. Only two casinos have opened on the so-called Primorye Strip — Tigre de Cristal and Casino Shambhala.
Russia’s three other zones that permit casinos — Altai, Krasnodar, and Kaliningrad — remain free of gaming venues.
Conversely, Zelensky has been a proponent of casino gambling. In August of 2020, Zelensky signed gambling legislation into law. Ukraine’s Gambling Act permits casinos only inside hotels. The gaming statute additionally allows iGaming and sports betting.
Zelensky embraced hotel casinos and other forms of gambling in an effort to rid the country of such illegal operations. The president believes eliminating underground gambling will provide incremental tax money to the country, while at the same time hindering income sources for criminal organizations.