You´re planning your next holiday. You fancy heading out to the casino on a couple of nights, so you run through your options. Las Vegas is a possibility of course- the weather is nice this time of year. And Macau (Macao) could be a good bet, for a mix of east and west with a side trip to Hong Kong thrown in. Or what about South Africa, Australia or the Carribean. Hmmmmm. Decisions, decisions.
Hang on. There´s another option. Vladisvostok! Why not head to the home of the Russian Pacific fleet for a far east casino combo?
Well, soon you will be able to, as Russia is laying its chips on this city in a bet that it becomes the next big casino destination.
Vladisvostok now has a casino zone in Primorye on the outskirts of Vladivostok. The casino is the first one to open its doors in the Russian far east after Putin proposed special gambling zones in 2009. It opens next month at the beginning of October 2105. It´s only just down the road from the North Korean border- the casino goes by the name of Tigre de Cristal, and has 759 slot games, plenty of roulette tables and a hotel. Hundreds of staff have been trained up ready for the grand opening.
Russia´s far east is resource rich but lacks a big population and infrastructure. The authorities are hoping that gambling can be the catalyst for growth in the region.
Macau gambling Tai Pan Lawence Ho (of Stanley Ho´s family) is the main money behind Tigre de Cristal. They are pumping $500m into the first phase, with plans to invest up to $900m.
And it may not be a bad bet, as there are more than 300m people living around Vladisvostok who can get to the city on a 3 hour flight. South Koreans and Japanese included. The Chinese market is the big golden egg. Vladisvostok could well become the Northern Chinese Macau.
But the only thing worrying analysts is China’ recent crackdown on corruption that has severely dented things in Macau. Having said that, numbers in Macau have fallen sharply, but they are still huge. It´s still bigger than Vegas in terms of gross gaming revenue.
Only time will tell how Lawrence Ho´s big bet on Russia pans out.