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The biggest illegal casinos in history

Unfortunately, for all of its perks, gambling has always been a fairly shady business at some points in history, and it continues to be in the 21st Century if you visit the wrong places. However, on balance the gambling experience today is a whole lot more legitimate and controlled than it has been at other points throughout history, and that is mainly down to government legislation in many countries that has resulted in increased regulation and therefore safety. Obviously, increased regulations aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, especially people who resent any kind of state-led interference on their personal lives, but the reality is that gambling regulations have greatly helped the overall industry. Without them, for example, there would be no gambling adverts on the television, like in the UK before the government approved The Gambling Act 2004. 

Many people wonder why it took so long for global governments to open their eyes to the online casino world like and introduce new bits of legislation, but the truth is that the authorities’ relationship with gambling has always been on somewhat shaky ground. To put things into perspective, the first legitimate casino in the world was only opened in 17th Century Venice, with all the gambling going on beforehand occupying the shady territory between legal and illegal. Moreover, in the 1800s casinos were effectively driven out of most of Central Europe due to the concerns of the authorities who worried that certain people were getting far too rich off of the enterprise. Casino gambling, therefore, has always been slightly at odds with governments, and it is no surprise that there have been various illegal casinos over the course of global history. It is quite interesting to learn about some of the biggest illegal casinos in history, so without further ado let’s take a look. 

South Korean gambling dens 

South Korea has a peculiar relationship with casino gambling to say the least, whilst the country’s population is prohibited from gambling in any way – whether that be sports betting, lotteries or in the casino – tourists that come from foreign nations are able to gamble in some specially made casinos in Seoul. You would think that with the government pushing a blanket ban on gambling for its inhabitants they wouldn’t be so happy for foreign tourists to gamble, but that would be willingly losing a lot of money from revenue, so you can kind of see their point. Regardless, one loophole for South Korean natives wanting to gamble is the fact that for some strange reason it is legal to do so in the remote and abandoned mining district of Gangwon. Perhaps the authorities hoped that the remoteness of the location would mean that South Koreans wouldn’t be able to sum up the effort to travel 150 miles for a game of roulette, but it has had some unexpected consequences… 

As you might expect, the South Korean gambling contingent weren’t going to be content with having to live in an abandoned mining district to do their gambling, and for that reason Seoul has always had a problem with underground and illegal gambling networks. Whilst this gave the public somewhere to gamble, it was often in pretty dangerous conditions, and without the legal framework behind it there were many people who would end up out of pocket even if they won their bets. However, the worst thing about these places, at least for the authorities, was the fact that they are illegal and therefore must be stamped out. In the year 2016 the Seoul city police force made one of the biggest gambling busts the world has ever seen, taking down a gang operated network that was believed to be making well over a million dollars a day. They had control of 70% of all the illegal gambling done in the city of almost 10 million, so this is is undeniably one of the biggest illegal casinos in history, if not the biggest! 

Underground casino in Russia 

A lot of things changed in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, mainly because a resolutely communist society ended up jumping headfirst down the capitalist rabbit hole, subsequently making a lot of people very rich in a short amount of time. Many different industries profited from this, however the reintroduction of gambling after so many years of communist rule ended up in the rapid expansion of the Russian gambling industry. Seriously, this was one profitable industry; in fact it was valued at $6 billion in the early years of the 21st Century. It was clear that Russians really couldn’t get enough of the gambling bug, but after a while this fact started to become a bigger and bigger problem, with lots of people succumbing to dangerous gambling addictions. In 2009 Russian president Vladimir Putin decided enough was enough, and gambling was banned all across Russia, apart from in a few distant and remote pockets. 

As you can probably imagine, a country of almost 150 million people isn’t exactly going to just completely stop gambling overnight, and pretty much immediately after the ban was put in place the main cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg became home to underground illegal casinos that started making a huge amount of money. So much money, in fact, that they regularly bribed police and government officials, meaning that these illegal establishments were also incredibly difficult to track down. 

US illegal online casino 

One of the main reasons why the UK ended up legalising online casino and hitting it with a ton of regulations is that it would make life a lot more difficult for illegal online casino operators. Oh how the US must wish they did the same, because in 2016 four organised criminals created an illegal online casino network that was worth over a billion dollars. 

The four criminals ended up having to use an offshore payments processing team in Costa Rica, proof that their operation was gargantuan. Unfortunately for them they were caught very recently, and await trial as we speak.

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