nder a 2007 law, which came into force on July 1, 2009, casinos and other gaming establishments can operate only in four far-flung areas - in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, south Siberia's Altai Territory, Primorye in the Far East, and in southern Russia.
The Azov City gambling zone, located on the Azov sea coast some 70 km (44 miles) from Rostov-on-Don, 150 km (93 miles) from Krasnodar and 300 km (186 miles) from the 2014 Winter Olympic host city of Sochi, is now far ahead its three rivals. The construction of the second casino is due to begin in March.
In mid-January a first investor bought two plots of land in the Altai gambling zone. No investors were found for the remaining two areas. The president of the Kazan-based Royal Time Company, Rashid Taimasov, received an official document allowing his company to carry out gambling activities at the Casino “Oracle” in Azov City.
The interior of the casino is designed in golden hues. The walls are draped to separate recreational areas from gambling tables. There are more than 200 slot machines and ten gambling tables in the casino, occupying an area of 1,500 squire metres on the Azov Sea coast located at the border between the Krasnodar region and the Rostov region.
The casino, ran by the Royal Time company from Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan, will now offer a slot machine arcade, a casino and a VIP casino hall to its visitors. A restaurant and a free bar with snacks and coffee will also be available.
"Four months after the casino would start its work, the company expects to have up to 500 visitors daily," marketing director Valery Saparin said. The company will also open a small 11-room hotel by mid-2010. The bigger one, offering 233 four-star rooms is expected to be built by 2017.
Royal Time will open free bus lines from two southern Russian cities, Krasnodar and Rostov-on-Don. The gambling industry had asked for a delay to the casino closures and their relocation, saying the zones situated in remote poorer regions would not attract many visitors, and the designated areas needed several more years of development.
Medvedev rejected a delay last May although officials had admitted that it would take four or five years to launch the zones.