The Russian state-owned news agency TASS is reporting that the new Krasnaya Polyana gambling zone in Sochi will attract the attention of tourists and help drive the economy of the area during the mountain cluster’s off-season.
The Russian government and state-owned banks invested billions of dollars in the area for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with huge cost overruns and were looking for ways to recoup some of those investments. The Sochi development included the Sea Cluster where the Olympic Village is located, and the Mountain Cluster, where ski lifts and runs are located. One solution was to modify existing private facilities at Gorki Gorod resort, making it the fifth active gambling zone in Russia when the Sochi Casino and Resort, which may adopt a more attractive working name soon, officially opens on January 5, 2017.
The first gambling zone to open after sweeping closures of up to a thousand casinos, legal and illegal and the creation of gambling zones in far-flung areas of the country was Azov-City. That development which includes Shambala and Oracul Casinos will phase out by the end of 2018 as Sochi builds up. The two areas are far enough apart that competition from each other during the transition period is not expected to be a problem, according to Russian gaming law experts.
The second zone to see a casino open was the “Siberian Coin” with Altai Palace debuting in 2014. However, the area lacks infrastructure and although successful, the casino still runs on generator power and has it’s own fresh water supply and sewer system.
The third zone to open was the Primorye in Primorski Krai outside of Vladivostok. Although remote and subject to Siberian winters, massive investment is taking place there because of an initially operator-friendly tax regime and its close proximity to over 100 million potential Asian customers. Tigre de Cristal was the first of several major upcoming developments to open there.
The soon to open Sochi Casino and Resort was earlier reported to plan a soft opening on New Years Eve 2016/17. Based in the existing mountain cluster of Gorki Gorod resort the facility is expected to initially offer a casino, restaurants, a bar, banquet hall, conference room, theater, and retail outlets. Several hotels are in the immediate vicinity.
The sixth and perhaps final Russian gambling zone to see a casino built was created by President Vladimir Putin on the heels of Russia’s “provisional occupation” or illegal annexation of Crimea. Ground will break there in 2017 on the territory of the Gaspa settlement near the city of Yalta and will occupy an area of 16.8 hectares (+/- 40 acres). That gambling zone is expected to open in 2019.