Russia Gambling has failed – Vladivostok Expansion coming

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It’s safe to say that Russia’s early attempts to run a zoned gambling outfit has failed miserably. The 2009 initiative saw the Russian government create four casino gambling zones – Baltic, Siberia, Far East, and southern Russia – while making gambling everywhere else within their borders illegal. Since that time, the government has only earned RUB100m ($3.13m) in tax revenue despite spending RUB1.4bn ($44.7m) to create this plan.

Seeing as how they’ve only averaged $1 million in tax revenue a year, Russia is looking to include Vladivostok among their gambling zones. The reason why Vladivostok has become such a hot topic is because it’s located near China, North Korea and Japan, which would allow Russia to cash in on the Asian gambling boom. Furthermore, residents of Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo would only have to fly a few hours to reach Vladivostok.

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Early estimates of this zoning plan have the Russian government earning anywhere from $2-$7 billion a year. Taking this figure into account, state-owned Nash Dom Primorye is currently seeking investors for casino development within Vladivostok.

Nash Dom Primorye director Marina Lomakina commented on Russia’s effort to establish a premier casino gaming destination by saying, “Over the next five years, the Russian Federation will continue to have a strong strategic interest in the economic development of the Far East region. Our view is that the tourism sector is a strategic economic opportunity that has yet to be fully developed.”

As for how Russia figures to become relevant within the increasingly-competitive Asian casino market, the country is hoping that their nearby location – yet diverse culture – will appeal to Asians. Going further, Vladivostok is expected to offer an all-around entertainment experience quite similar to Las Vegas.

Some people within the gaming industry are surprised at Russia’s sudden emergence within the Asian gambling community – including International Gaming Institute at Nevada University professor Bo Bernhard. He commented on this matter by saying, “We have no north Asia port for gambling. For a long time the debate has been, will it be Korea or Japan and all of a sudden Russia is in play. It’s an interesting opportunity.”

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