Russia & India Report (RIR) recently profiled Russia’s ambitious plans to build a gambling complex near Vladivostok on the country’s Pacific coast. The project has been something of a disappointment so far, with the original plans for 17 casinos having been scaled back after only five companies expressed interest in setting up shop in the Primorsky Integrated Entertainment Zone. But RIR says that’s just the beginning of the region’s problems. Apparently, Russia’s far east criminal gangs are having no luck convincing their Chinese counterparts in Macau to school them on the nuances of managing money-laundering, loan-sharking, prostitution and drug-dealing operations in a major casino zone. The Russian gangs are reportedly dealing with these setbacks by concentrating on skimming money from the construction contracts. Now that’s the spirit that kicked Hitler’s ass!
Years ago, Russia banished casinos to Primorsky and three other remote and largely undeveloped regions, with cynics suggesting it was a ploy by Russia’s leaders to get someone else to pay for building up the necessary infrastructure. One of these regions, the Altai Republic, was supposed to open its Siberian Coin casino this year, but little has been heard of the project since July, when Altai Deputy Governor Mikhail Shchetinin told Russian site LoginCasino that “the issue of gas and electricity supply is being solved.” Na zdaróvye!
Across the border from Altai in Kazakhstan, the government has designated two gambling zones and Business News Europe reports that Malaysia’s Alam Gapura Group Sdn Bdh may plow over $6b into “infrastructure and tourist facilities” in the Kapchagai region’s ‘KazVegas’ project. The Ministry of Transport and Communications claims the Malaysian company is studying the feasibility of building an international airport and a 104km road connecting Kapchagai with Almaty, the country’s largest city. Can we therefore assume the electricity supply is already up to code…?
In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, the year-old plan to prevent all gambling has had unintended consequences. When the Kyrgyz parliament passed a bill banning gambling in September 2011, President Roza Otunbayeva warned that it wasn’t likely to eliminate gambling joints, but merely force them underground. Official estimates at the time of the bill’s passage put the number of casinos operating in the country at 21. Now, fifteen months later, State Finance Department chairman Yuruslan Toichubekov says “there are over 50 clandestine casinos.” Well done, unpronounceable guy from unpronounceable country. Well done.