As Russia's President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin signed the law to establish a new gambling zone in Crimea, Moscow-based conference organizer Smile Expo immediately called for an industry meeting, organizing the Crimea Gambling Congress.
The event, which will gather together operators and international investors, will be held in Yalta on August 22, and aims to highlight the benefits that the opening to the gambling industry can bring to the region.
"We see a great desire of officials at all levels to promote the organization of the Congress, which shows the importance of the creation of a gambling zone for Crimea and the importance of this event for the business," the conference coordinator Yana Pastushko told PokerNews.
"Crimea is a resort peninsula. Apart from relaxing on the beach, millions of tourists look for other entertainment. The legal gambling establishments are perfect for a fun pastime," Pastusko continued. She also highlighted how she thinks that the gambling industry could bring noticeable benefits for the local Crimean population.
"For the local population, [the gambling zone] means thousands of additional workplaces and, for the authorities and business, an opportunity to receive additional investments," she added. "Today, we are seeing that major Russian investment companies have a real interest in the Congress."
The decision to add the former Ukrainian region of Crimea to the list of Russia's gambling zones, the only ones in the country where gambling games are allowed, was first examined right after the controversial referendum held in April 2014 that made the peninsula join the Russian Federation right in the middle of the clashes between Kiev and Moscow.
After a quick study on the effects that the institution of a new gambling zone would have on the region, on July 10 the Russian Parliament approved a bill that was then officially signed by President Putin on Wednesday, July 23.
"We see a great desire of officials at all levels to promote the organization of the Congress, which shows the importance of the creation of the gambling zone for the Crimea and the importance of this event for the business," Pastushko said.
"In addition to representatives of the Crimean authorities, the Deputy Finance Minister, Alexey Moiseev, is planning to participate in the Congress, since his department will directly supervise the opening of the gambling zone not only in the Crimea but also in Sochi. Businessmen and investors coming to the Congress not only from Russia, but also from abroad, will get accurate information from the management of the tax service of Crimea regarding honest and legal work, the order of acquisition of licenses, and business operations.
"We expect not only constructive and interesting speeches, but also dialogue with the participants, official statements from the authorities, proposals from the businessmen and experts to officials," Pastushko continued. "The result of the event should be a working group consisting of representatives of authorities and business."
Speaking on the possibilities related to the requalification of Crimea as Russia's next gambling hub, the deputy executive director of the Russian Association for the Development of the Gambling Industry, Samoil Binder, also expressed his optimism about the decision of the government.
Binder believes that this represents a unique opportunity for the development of the region, as "We will need to build five-star hotels on the seashore, to invest and create recreational infrastructures including concert halls, sports facilities, restaurants and bars (…) and we will have to organize sports events like the world [poker] championship in Las Vegas."
As the opening to gambling in Crimea represents only a part of Russia's new gambling policy, Yalta's conference will also include talks about the possibility for the country to establish a regulated online poker market.
"We already know for sure that the question of legalization of online poker in Russia, and now also in the Crimea, is of interest to players in the local and international market," Pastusko went on. "We invite experts and large business owners to become speakers at the conference. They will share their predictions regarding when this might happen, and business rules in the field of online poker."
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