Crimea Soon To Be Russia's 5th Gambling ZoneApril 23, 2014 2:27 pm
Last month the world watched on while Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, a major land mass on the northern coast of the Black Sea which until 1954 was part of Soviet Russia. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced he intends to create a gambling center in Crimea, and has presented a bill to the State Duma which its deputy head Viktor Zvagelsky said is designed to lift Crimea “at least to the average Russian level, socially and fiscally.”
Since 2009 when Russia banned casinos from Moscow, the country has restricted casinos to the four officially designated gambling zones of Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, Altay, and Primorsky Krai. Thus far, however, attracting investment has been difficult and Russia’s only single functioning gambling zone, Azov-City in the southern Krasnodar region, brought in just 120 million rubles ($3.6 million) in taxes for the government last year.
Commenting on future prospects for Crimea, the peninsula’s Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev said on Monday that a Crimean gambling zone “stands a good chance of becoming a competitor to such sophisticated territories as Macau, Monaco and Las Vegas.”
Nevertheless, Dmitry Kozak ruled out suggestions of going back to the days pre-2009 when Crimea had a slot machines on “every corner” and said Crimea would obey Russia’s current gambling zone laws. In addition, Duma Deputy Zvagelsky said even if Western investors shun the casino project on political grounds, there should not be any difficulties attracting investment, stating:
“We have quite a lot of our own investors who will happily invest in Crimea, much more happily than they would in the other gambling zones that we have today.”
This year the Crimea is predicted to have a budget deficit running into hundreds of million dollars. Nevertheless, Russia’s Finance Ministry has pledged to invest $7 billion in infrastructure developments, with Prime Minister Medvedev saying he intends to see Crimea transformed into a special economic zone, complete with enticing tax incentives to lure big businesses.