Lawrence Ho’s Tigre de Cristal first to open in Russia’s Primorye gaming zone

tigre-de-cristal-casino-soft-launchLawrence Ho’s Tigre de Cristal casino held its soft-launch this week, the first casino in Russia’s Primorye gaming zone to open to the public.

The oft-delayed casino has missed many previous opening targets but over one thousand guests – including government officials, business types and those lucky enough to wrangle a special invite – attended Thursday’s soft launch ahead of the full opening scheduled for Nov. 12.

Following the VIP sneak peak, the doors were thrown open to the public. Over the next four hours, nearly 5k looky-loos stormed the gates and more than 9k customers have already signed up for Tigre de Cristal club cards.

Primorye, located 50km from the port city of Vladivostok on Russia’s east coast, is one of six official gaming zones in which Russian authorities allow casino gambling to take place. However, outside of properties in Krasnodar and Altai, there were no other active casinos until Tigre de Cristal opened. Konstantin Shestakov, director of the Primorsky region’s tourism department, said Tigre de Cristal was already “greater than all existing [Russian] casinos by volume.”

Phase 1 of the property boasts 67 gaming tables (42 mass market, 25 VIP), 769 electronic gaming machines, two restaurants, spa facilities and a 121-room hotel. Phase 2 is expected to open in 2018, adding more hotels and gaming options in addition to entertainment, retail and dining facilities.

Tigre de Cristal will have the Primorye market all to itself for the next couple years. Rival properties from the Royal Time Group, Nagacorp and Diamond Fortune won’t begin opening until late 2017 at the earliest, but Primorye officials expect all these properties to be fully developed by 2022.

Tigre de Cristal is owned by G1 Entertainment (formerly known as the First Gambling Company of the East), in which Ho’s Summit Ascent Holdings holds a majority stake. Taiwanese gaming device maker Firich Entertainment holds the next biggest slice, while local Russian partners control the rest.