Primorye casino Shambala to open ‘this summer’


Russia’s far east gaming zone will welcome its second functioning casino this summer, although the precise date remains something of a moving target.

On Monday, the government in the Primorsky Territory on Russia’s eastern shore announced that Shambala Casino will open in the Primorye gaming zone outside Vladivostok “this summer.” The casino is backed by Shambala CJSC, which predates all Russian rivals, having opened its first Russian casino in Krasnodar back in 2004.

Government reps previously claimed that the Shambala venue would open this month, although they cautioned at the time that the precise timing would be the company’s call. The delays may have more to do with the infrastructure leading to the casino, but the government insists road works “are being completed” as we speak.

Maxim Smolentsev, general director of Shambala CJSC, was careful to praise the local authorities for supporting his project “in every possible way.” Smolentsev singled out deputy chairman Konstantin Shestakov for stopping by the facility “almost every week … to quickly resolve current issues.”

Smoltensev said that while the casino will provide “a fabulous service” to high-rolling gamblers, “we are not going to become a closed elite club.” The property will boast a 5,200-square-meter main gaming floor which Smolentsev hopes to fill with a broad range of customers from Japan, China, South Korea and Cambodia.

The question now is: will they come? Like many other jurisdictions, Primorye is currently struggling with a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. The government announced 112 new cases on Friday, while local inspectors cited 57 individuals and businesses for violations of safety protocols.

Primorye’s only current functioning casino, Suncity Group’s Tigre de Cristal, was only allowed to reopen earlier this month after nearly three months of inaction due to COVID-19. But safety protocols mean the casino is operating at only around half-capacity, which will crimp its ability to recoup all that lost revenue.

The local government appears sensitive to the need to give its casino sector a leg up, so it recently approved a temporary reduction in the fixed taxes casinos pay for each gaming table and slot machine. The tax breaks will extend through October, assuming the pandemic has abated by then.