Kazakhstan Police Declares War on Underground Blackjack Card Games
Mar 15, 2011
Kazakhstan is facing a problem of increased number of illegal gambling establishments and answers this threat with new measures.
The city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, set up seven special teams, responsible for identifying underground gambling establishments and suppressing their activities. The new strategy was devised by and carried out under the instructions of the Chief of Department of Internal Affairs of Almaty, Major-General, Erlan Turgumbaev.
The special action teams are composed of precinct inspectors, informers and police special forces. The top three most popular illegal casino style games in Kazakhstan are blackjack card games, roulette tables and 20-30 year old slot machines.
Most often, the gaming halls are found in residential areas: in basements of bus depots, inside shopping malls and even in oversized truck containers behind supermarkets. Typically, these illegal establishments are disguised as legitimate businesses, so an invitation is required to find and a password is needed to gain entry.
For an average person interested in locating these establishments, the quickest way would be to join a Kazakh internet discussion forum and make posts about blackjack strategy and tricks. Once the forum members become familiar with the new user, a private message will be sent announcing the location and password to enter one of the illegal casinos.
“We carry out local raids day and night,” said Deputy Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime Department of Internal Affairs of the city, Colonel Bakhyt Balgimbayev, “but illegal gambling still seems to flourish.”
According to the Colonel, the goal of the new measures is to completely eradicate this very profitable criminal activity and to vigilantly prosecute all perpetrators in a court of law. Recently detectives closed down six underground gambling establishments equipped with electronic roulette, slot machines and blackjack tables.
Winners were instantly paid in cash inside the illegal casinos and police seized large amounts of currency. Gamblers inside one of the establishments boasted that winning at the blackjack table was easy, even with a limited understanding of any basic blackjack card counting system. One blackjack player explained that the organized crime owned casinos focused more effort on rigging slot machines to pay out less, while making sure frequent jackpots are only won by family members or trusted associates.
Little time was devoted to the blackjack tables as over 80% of profits were generated by the hundreds of slot and video poker machines. Players believed that it was this lack of attention that ensured fairer games which were easier to beat. ‘The dealers frequently played with 1-2 decks, and went all the way to the last card before shuffling,’ explains Mahumabarukazanhk who declined to provide his last name, ‘I always came home a winner, and my wife was proud. I’ll find new casino first thing tomorrow.’
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