On Nov. 11, 2015, Russia unveiled the Tigre de Cristal casino, located in the Primorye gambling zone in Russia's Far East. The casino is the largest in the country and one of the first to be opened since the government banned gambling facilities across most of the country six years ago.
The new casino is expected to be the first of many in the Tigre de Cristal gambling zone located near the Pacific port city of Vladivostok. In addition to Primorye, licensed gaming is also permitted by law in gambling zones in the Altai Territory in West Siberia, the Krasnodar Territory in Southern Russia, and Kaliningrad.
Tigre de Cristal features 500 slot machines and 50 gambling tables, and the Russian press is already enthusiastically promoting the newly established gaming region as the "Las Vegas on the Pacific."
During the unveiling ceremony, Craig Ballantyne, Executive Director of G1 Entertainment, the owner of the casino, also appeared enthusiastic about the new casino and how the development of the gaming zone should attract a wide variety in tourism-related investments.
At least $2 billion in investments are planned in the Primorye region with Hong Kong-based Melco International Development leading the project to develop casinos, restaurants, entertainment centers, and hotels. Also involved in development are Malaysia's NagaCorp Ltd, Royal Time Primorye, and Diamond Fortune Holdings.
Despite the opening of the new casino, in recent times Russia has expressed mixed signals in how the country feels about gambling. Earlier in the year, the Russian government closed the doors to the Oracul, the Shambala, and the Nirvana in the Sochi region where the 2014 Summer Olympic Games were held. This is despite significant growth the casinos experienced since opening in 2010. At the time of the announcement, it was shared that the reason for the closure was for the country to focus more on the other zones earmarked for gaming.
Additionally, the country appears to be obsessed to find ways to combat online gaming as well. Just recently, the country introduced legislation that if passed would prohibit online gaming transactions.
It is uncertain how many of the country's 144 million residents will make the long-trip to the new gaming zone, as there are plenty of locations within Europe that are closer to visit.
*Lead image courtesy of primamedia.ru.