Russia is eyeing to become the new destination of choice for Asian gamblers with the opening of its multi-billion casino complex—Primorye—near the city of Vladivostok.
Primorye’s first casino, Tigre de Cristal, is set to open its doors in September, according to Macau Daily Times. The casino resort is fairly modest in size, with only about 25 VIP gaming tables, 40 mass market tables, 800 slot machines, and 199 hotel rooms. So why is it in the news?
Tigre de Cristal has been developed and will be managed by Lawrence Ho’s Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd. Ho, as we all know, is also the man behind the City of Dreams developments in Macau and Manila.
Ho and other investors, including Russian firms Diamond Fortune Holdings and Royal Time Group, are planning to spend a total of $2.2 billion into the 1,500-acre entertainment complex, dubbed “Primorye” after the Russian name for the region. Tigre de Cristal will be the first of the 16 planned luxury casinos to open in the gambling complex.
Diamond Fortune will begin constructing its $914 million Selena World Resort and Casino in the first half of 2016, while Royal Time Group is expected to start building the Phoenix casino and resort in the summer.
The first phase of Royal Time’s resort will feature 30 gaming tables and 500 slots when it opens in 2017. Non-gaming amenities will include an indoor water park, a 1,500-seat theater, a spa, and some restaurants, clubs and retail options.
State-owned media outlet Russia Beyond the Headlines quoted the Ministry for the Development of Far East who said that the estimated revenues of the complex could amount to $1.2 billion, and could even reach $5.2 billion in 10 years. The ministry said tax rates for the zone is pegged at 3 to 7 percent, a far cry from Macau’s 39 percent.
Primorye is actually closer than Macau for gamblers in northern China, South Korea and Japan, which investors say is a crucial advantage when the zone competes with the city state for the title of Asia’s largest gambling center. The city of Vladivostok is about a two-and-a-half hour flight from Beijing, Seoul or Tokyo, and about one-hour-and-a-half flight from Harbin, the capital of China’s Heilongjiang province.
In addition, Russia has no currency restrictions and visa requirements for South Vietnamese nationals and Chinese tour groups have already been scrapped. But there’s a downside: Expect to see Siberian tigers roaming in the very cold region where Primorye’s located.
Russia prohibits gambling outside of its designated zones. Currently, the country has four gaming zones: Siberian Coin in Altay, Yantarnaya in Kaliningrad region, Azov-city in the Rostov region, and Primorye.