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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Police Shut Down Poker Club

Police raided an illegal poker club in southern Moscow that was operating as a restaurant, police said Wednesday.

The Golden River poker club near the Bratislavskaya metro station was disguised as a restaurant called Golden River. The poker tables were hidden in a room with a sign on the door saying, “Warehouse. No entry,” police said in a statement.

“The door was covered by security cameras and was strictly guarded. Strangers weren’t allowed in on the excuse that the restaurant was holding a private dinner or office party,” the statement said.

Police found two poker tables with about 15 players, almost all ethnic Armenians and Azeris with Russian citizenship. There were no roulette tables, police spokesman Vladimir Konovalov said.

The identity of the owners is being established. “According to the investigators, the club was maintained with money from an organized crime group,” Konovalov said.

The operation took place several weeks ago but was only made public Wednesday, Konovalov said. No one has yet been charged with a crime.

The Golden River poker club placed ads on recruitment web sites looking for staff in June and July, saying that it was opening clubs at the Bratislavskaya, Tsvetnoi Bulvar and Yugo-Zapadnaya metro stations. The telephone number was no longer active Wednesday.

Poker clubs weren’t initially covered by legislation on illegal gambling, since poker was classed as an official sport. It was removed from the list of sports in July. Under a 2006 law that came into force July 1, all gambling is restricted to four special zones around the country, with the exception of bookmakers, lotteries and poker in specially licensed sports clubs. Since the law came into force, owners of illegal gambling clubs face charges of “illegal entrepreneurship with exceptionally high earnings,” which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.