Federal control looms for Russia’s Primorye gaming zone

Authorities in Russia are gearing up to take over the Primorye gaming zone.

Federal control looms for Russia’s Primorye gaming zoneIn July, the federal government of Russia announced that it will start streamlining the management of the gambling zone, following widespread criticism over the lack of progress in the province of Primorye Krai.

With this goal in mind, the Russian Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East has started drafting amendments to the country’s gambling laws, Russian media outlets reported. The legislation is expected to be enacted in December 2017.

“The Far East Investment and Export Agency is now tasked with attracting new large international players to the project,” a ministry source said, according to the reports.

Yuri Trutnev, deputy prime minister and plenipotentiary representative of the President in Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District, told Russian news agency TASS that because of the slow developments in the Primorye gaming zone, the government has decided to file legal action against investors who delay the implementation of their projects in the province.

The Russian government has allowed eight casinos to be built in the Primorye gambling zone, with the final cost expected to reach US$350 million. At present, however, only Lawrence Ho’s Tigre de Cristal casino has opened to the public—and it’s having trouble competing with local basement casinos as well as its established Asia-Pacific rivals. NagaCorp’s Lighthouse project, on the other hand, isn’t expected to open until late 2018.

Despite the challenges it faces, Tigre de Cristal managed to add RUB289.7 million (US$4.88 million) to state coffers. And this, tourism authorities said, is a good indicator for other gaming investors.

“The apparent success of the first hotel and entertainment complex with casino Tigre de Cristal in the IER Primorye resort will certainly serve as a good incentive for future investors who decide to implement their projects,” Konstantin Shestakov, head of tourism department, said in a report published on the Primorsky Krai Development Corp. website. Primorsky Krai Development Corp. is a government-owned company tasked with overseeing the development of the Primorye casino development area.

Tigre de Cristal’s Hong Kong-listed operator, Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd., said it plans to start building the property’s US$500-million phase two, which will have an aggregate of 500 extra rooms in two hotels, duty free shopping, a food court and extra gaming space.