Russia Accuses North Korean Embassy in Moscow of Hosting Illegal Gambling, Shutdown is Part of Citywide Sting
Posted on: September 27, 2018, 02:04h.
Last updated on: September 27, 2018, 02:04h.
Has North Korea – aka the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — been running an illegal underground casino smack in the middle of Russia’s capital city Moscow, right under the noses of local authorities?
That’s the claim from the Russian government this week, after police carried out raids on more than a dozen illicit gambling operations in Moscow.
“A total of fifteen gambling joints and casinos were closed down in Moscow early last week. One of them was in a building on the premises of the North Korean embassy,” a source told TASS, Russia’s main news agency.
TASS is reporting that the casino catered to lawyers and diplomats, and was replete with heavy security and multiple armed guards.
In all, the raids spanned some 80 offices and homes, leading to 100 suspects being detained.
Casino? What Casino?
It’s unclear whether or not any of those suspects were taken from the alleged North Korean casino. However, Russian authorities remain steadfast in their claims that one of the illegal casinos was indeed located at the DPRK embassy in Moscow.
The response from North Korean officials this week was to claim to have no knowledge of any underground casino.
“This is not so. We know nothing about this,” an embassy official said to TASS. The diplomat went on to say that the claims were “complete nonsense” and that the embassy was home to “nothing out of the ordinary.”
In 2009, gambling was made illegal in most of Russia, except in for four specific regions – one of which includes Moscow. Past reports have suggested that there are as many as 58 casinos, 2,000 gaming rooms, and 70,000 slot machines in the city.
The Russian Association of Gambling Business Development reports that about half-a-million Muscovites gamble on a regular basis.
There is also another major gaming hub outside of Vladivostok, which some have claimed will eventually become the “Russian Macau.”
When Donald Trump held his infamous summit with Kim Jong Un in June, it was widely reported that the North Korean leader requested that the US invest in its plans for an integrated casino resort.
The casino plans were slated for tourists and the coastal region of Wonsan-Kalma. Nothing has since suggested that the resort will actually get built, and D.S. Kim, executive director at JP Morgan in Hong Kong and a regional gaming analyst covering Macau, Singapore, and Korean casinos, said in June that a gaming venue in the Hermit Kingdom doesn’t “make any economic sense in North Korea.”
That hasn’t stopped LVS CEO Sheldon Adelson from making noise about such a possibility, however. Speaking at an event earlier this summer, the casino magnate said he didn’t want the US to go back to North Korea for another war, he wanted it to “go back to Korea to open up my business.”