Russia unveiled its newest casino in the country, the Tigre de Cristal, on November 11, 2015. The Primorye-based casino is the largest in the country, and one of the first to open since the government completely banned gambling facilities in Russia 6 years ago.
According to the country’s local tourism head, Konstantin Shestakov, about 30,000 tourists made their way to Primorye’s Tigre de Cristal as soon as it opened its doors. During its first couple of weeks open, the Tigre de Cristal’s first drew in South Koreans, Chinese, and the Japanese tourists. The 121-room hotel that is integrated into the Tigre de Cristal is fully booked until the end of February, which is the month where this year’s Chinese New Year is scheduled.
Local authorities have done everything they can in order to prevent the newly opened casino from having domestic and international competition during its first week of operations. Right after Tigre de Cristal’s opening, the Department of Economic Security and the Anti-Corruption Ministry of Internal Affairs made sure to close down illegal online gambling operations within the region. Online gambling, which is legal in most European states and the preferred gaming method for many tech-savvy individuals due to online providers’ deposit bonus offerings and free slot machine spins, was deemed illegal in Russia since 2006. However, reports say that the ring had been operating for 2 years, and was only shut down shortly after the new casino’s opening. Three people were arrested for their involvement in the illegal online gambling operations.
Despite the spike in numbers, however, Russia says it’s still early to judge the casino’s actual role in the country’s tourism boom. After all, whether or not the casino can sustain the spike for a sustained amount of time has yet to be seen.
Russia is planning to turn Primorye into something similar to the world-renowned Las Vegas strip as the government plans to open more casinos in the area. At least $630 million worth of investment has been allotted by the Macau-based Melco International Development in Primorye to develop casinos, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment facilities. Malaysia’s NagaCorp ltd., Diamond Fortune Holdings, and Royal Time Primorye are also planning on opening their very own casinos in the area.
Looking at the example with Tigre de Cristal in Primorye makes me assume that removing the ban from gambling in Moscow could attract more foreign tourists to the capital as well. Casinos have always been a great way to generate additional funds for the state and add more jobs to the market. This would definitely benefit the economy of Moscow during the ongoing economic crisis.