The Russian government plans to close down three casinos in the Azov City gambling zone in the Krasnodar Krai region by April 1, reports the news agency Tass.
The action is meant to help develop gambling in the country’s other three gaming zones, especially the Sochi region, home of the 2014 Summer Olympics. Both the Sochi region and the former Ukrainian province of Crimea were designated as new gaming zones in July 2014 by the Russian legislative body Duma, reported the news site.
Last June, the Krasnodar government said the three casinos in its zone—the Oracul, the Shambala and the Nirvana—have been doing well since they opened in 2010. Sources say the casinos, which drew just 45,000 visitors in 2010, attracted 128,000 visitors during the first five months of 2014.
Russia’s Ministry of Finance said it would pay the trio of casinos “at least” 10 billion rubles (US $145 million) to compensate for the closures.
The Royal Time Group, which operates the Oracul facility, just invested 1.5 million rubles in a new hotel at the property and had begun development of a concert and entertainment complex, slated for completion by the third quarter of 2015. The loss of its investment there may lead Royal Time to migrate to the Primorye gambling zone near Vladivostok. The regional government there has signed investment agreements worth more than $1 billion with Cambodia-based NagaCorp, Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development and the First Gambling Company of the East.
The Primorye region is home to a gambling zone that ultimately could include 16 hotel-casinos on a territory that covers 620 hectares (more than 1,500 acres). The Siberian Times says the zone will “tempt wealthy Asian tourists away from the traditional destinations in China and the U.S.”
The new legislation forbids any operator from doing business in the area outside Sochi, which is also in the Krasnodar region, the Moscow Times reported. The law was “created in an attempt to ensure that massive spending on Sochi’s infrastructure for the 2014 Olympics did not got to waste, and has yet to lead to any firm plans to build gambling facilities in Sochi.