he Russian Government has long had ambitions for a thriving gambling zone that could tempt wealthy Asian tourists away from the traditional destinations in China and the US. Despite announcing proposals for the Primorye region way back in 2009, it was only last year that international firms began backing the venture, with investments worth US2billion (130billion rubles) signed off.
Located just 50km from the major city of Vladivostok, the new 620-hectare gambling zone is ideally placed for tourists jetting in from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. Plans are in place for a total of 16 hotel casino resorts, a yacht club, a marina with berths for 65 boats, a ski trail, and beaches as well as a business and conference center.
Now it looks as if the dream will finally be realized in May, when the First Gambling Company of the East opens a four-story hotel and casino complex.
The firm’s chief executive John Wang said, 'Given the favorable location of Vladivostok, we are sure that [the gaming zone] can become a second Macau'.
The Russian Government made plans for four officially designated casino zones after outlawing gambling across most of the country in 2009. Olympic host city Sochi and the annexed Crimea were added to that list of four zones last year. In November the Siberian Times reported that Siberia had opened its first-ever casino in a 1 billion ruble venture that will create hundreds of jobs and see the introduction of ‘gambler tourism’ to the region.
The Siberian Coin, which is part of the new Altai Palace Hotel Resort opening in April, launched with 16 gaming tables and 20 machines. So far. the local government in the Primorye region has signed deals for the new gambling zone with major firms from Cambodia and Hong Kong, as well as with Russian companies.
Cambodia-based NagaCorp and domestic company Royal Time Group plan to start construction work on their own hotel casino resorts later this year. It would be a major economic boost if Russia were to succeed at emulating Macau, which is ranked seventh out of 42 as the wealthiest country in the Asia-Pacific region.
Indeed, recent figures show that gamblers in Macau manage to wager more in just one day than it takes for the Las Vegas Strip to muster in an entire week.
Gambling revenue in Macau – which is the onlyregion in China in which casinos are legal – rose by 19 percent between 2013 and 2014, with predictions it that will be worth $77billion (5,000 billion rubles) for the economy by 2017.