Maxim Smolentsev, president of the Shambala Casino in Russia
The recently-opened Shambala casino in the Russian Far East has launched a poker club to develop its patron base and increase visitation.
The Shambala casino is set to become the second such facility in the Russian Far East with its grand opening set for this Friday. This casino will become the direct competitor to the Tigre de Cristal.
The second casino in the Primorye gambling zone is expected to open in the summer of 2020, according to Russia’s Far East Investment and Export Agency, local media reports. The casino is set to operate as part of the Shambhala hotel and entertainment complex, whose opening was earlier planned in May. “The opening of the […]
Russian casino investor Shambala has announced plans to build a 16,000 square meter entertainment complex in Primorye after winning an open auction for two land plots in the zone, local media reports. The complex will include a casino with 500 EGMs and 50 gaming tables, as well as a five-star hotel with 270 rooms and […]
Shambala CEO Maxim Smolentsev on Tuesday presented plans for a gambling facility in Primorye during a meeting headed by regional Vice Governor Yevgeny Polyansky, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. The project was reportedly approved by Polyansky and other officials. According to the investor, the project was developed by international architectural firm AEDAS, which […]
Merkur Gaming has announced the placing of Avantgarde SLT slot machines at the Shambala Casino in Azov City, which was recently expanded. “Increased floor space, increased service, a larger team – all these factors go hand-in-hand with the requirement for increased world-class gaming equipment,” said Merkur in a press release on Thursday. “Our business relations […]
The Krasnodar Territory Arbitration Court has authorized the Casino Shambala to continue to conduct gambling activities in its complex, in the Azov City gaming zone. The 18,000 square meter casino complex, which faces liquidation, turned to court after the regional property relations department had not responded to its request for reissuing Shambala’s gaming licence for […]
The concept of a casino and entertainment hub in Russia’s Far East will take a further step towards fruition this summer with the expected opening of the Shambhala Casino.
The Primorsky Krai Development Corp (PKDC), which is responsible for management of the Primorye gaming zone, expects a key project to move ahead in May this year, despite the outbreak of the coronavirus and remains upbeat about the region’s longer-term prospects.
Russia’s Primorye entertainment zone has just held a new round of bidding for land plots, attracting a major investor with plans for a 16,000-square meter integrated resort complex. Russian businessman Maxim Smolentsev, who heads Shambala, presented its plans to the governor of the Primorye Territory Andrey Tarasenko earlier this year and then took part in […]
The tenth Russian Gaming Week conference was held in Moscow earlier this month, but a promised focus on the country’s land-based industry failed to materialize. Organizers had scheduled discussions on the often confusing and ever-shifting situation in Russia’s gambling zones on the second day of the conference, but the program was replaced by a set of marketing presentations, with no explanation given. Despite the high-profile launch of Summit Ascent’s Tigre de Cristal in Primorye last year, experts say the reality is that the zones in Russia are struggling. Samoil Binder, Deputy Head of the Russian Association of Gambling Business, said the situation is “deplorable.”
Published in: Latest Intelligence President Vladimir Putin signed a law creating two new gambling zones in the Olympic City of Sochi and the newly annexed Crimea last month with the hope of boosting tourism revenue. But experts hold mixed views on the ultimate chance of success in either location. At a specially organized conference in Yalta on August 22, Russian gaming experts convened to discuss the potential of Crimea. The consensus was that in the longer-term Crimea may be the more successful of the two new zones, though both face significant challenges. Russia banned gambling in 2009 except for in designated areas across the country: in Kaliningrad near the Baltic Sea, in the Primorye and Altai Regions and Krasnodar territory. Out of four of them, only the Azov-City gambling complex on the border of the Krasnodar and Rostov regions has been completed. In Sochi, casinos will be located near the Olympic Village. However, the law specifies that casinos can only be set up in Olympic facilities paid for by private investors. It will work in favor of companies controlled by Russian billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, Russia’s Gazprom and the country’s largest lender Sberbank, who built many of the Olympic facilities. The move to create the gambling zone in Sochi came from a push from Sberbank head German Gref. Initially, Putin opposed the initiative, saying it will discourage families from visiting, but the situation changed after the annexation of Crimea. Sochi is also scheduled to host the 2018 World Cup and gambling will add to the offerings available to the expected wave of tourists arriving for the games. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Kozak recently said the gambling zone in Sochi already has many of the necessary facilities and may be operational as early as next May/June, in time for the next holiday season. He also said that “the projected gaming zone in the [neighboring] city of Anaya will certainly be closed” and that the same fate may befall the only functioning gaming zone Azov-City, but a final decision has not been taken. According to the head of Sochi, Anatoliy Pakhomov, 49 new hotels (primarily four- and five-star) were built for the Olympics, some of which are controlled by foreign hotel operators, such as Fine Hotels & Resorts, Accor Hotels and Marriott International. However, one of the problems developers may face is that these hotels were not specifically designed for gamblers, the president of the Multitur company Aleksey Visokanov told Russian privately-owned news agency Interfax. Despite the shortcomings, in the shorter term Sochi is likely to prove more popular, at least to overseas visitors, due to political unrest in Crimea. “Why to invest in Crimea, when there will be no regular influx of tourists to the peninsula until the bridge (over the Kerch Strait – the only first direct road connection between Russia and Crimea) is built? A big number of foreign players will certainly not come to Crimea, but may come to Sochi,” Visokanov added. Oleg Zhuravskiy, President of the First Self-Regulating Bookmakers Organization, also predicts fast development of the Sochi gaming zone, within three to five years, because the infrastructure is already in place. In 2013, about 4 million tourists visited Sochi, with that number expected to have risen 30 percent in 2014 due to visitors coming to the Olympics. It’s forecast to drop off again next year. However, in the longer-term, Marina Smirnova, head of hotel industry and tourism at Cushman & Wakefield, sees greater potential for developing the Crimean zone. The region currently lacks good quality hotels and new facilities can be specifically tailored to create a purpose-built gambling zone. Under the new law, the Crimean authorities were empowered to freely choose locations for the gambling zone on the peninsula. Crimean leaders have recently announced that they do not plan to spread gambling facilities across the peninsula, but rather establish a zone in the resort area of Big Yalta, which stretches 70 km along the Black Sea shore. On 30 July, acting head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov told the Crimean TV and radio broadcaster Krim that experts from Macau, Las Vegas and Monaco had come to the peninsula to assess the opportunities in the region and had identified Big Yalta as the best location. Vitaliy Nakhlupin, the chairman of the permanent commission on budgetary and financial policy of the Crimean State Council, has also supported Big Yalta as most key gaming facilities were situated there before Ukraine banned gambling in 2009. At that time, there were 283 gaming houses in the area. Meanwhile, some local hoteliers said it may be more viable to locate casinos within the hotels than to set up a special gambling zone, as the current tensions may make it difficult to attract the required investment. Development Director of the Yalta-Intourist hotel Stanislav Mazhayki said at the recent Gaming Congress that the best way to go would be to legalize casinos in five-star hotels. Head of JSC Shambala and co-owner of the namesake casino in Azov-City, Maksim Smolentsev believes that the gambling zone in Crimea won’t be open to visitors for at least three years at the earliest if it’s built from scratch. There will need to be a city development plan and a concept, the tender for investors and, finally, actual construction. Smolentsev advised the local authorities not to expect an influx of wealthy tourists, because most of the gamblers in the Russian gaming zones are residents of the neighboring towns with modest income. But despite pessimistic advice, Moscow is still hoping to boost the local economies with this legislation, as well as to attract more tourists to the resorts and create new jobs. Experts told Russian privately-owned news agency ITAR TASS that the appearance of casinos in Crimea could inflate the regional budget by up to $750 million annually. Earlier the aide to the acting head of Crimea, Rustam Temirgaliyev, said that several investors, including some from China, have already expressed an interest in becoming involved, though he gave no names. Vitaliy Nakhlupin agreed, telling the Crimean Gaming Congress that authorities will attract a world-class investor, with relevant experience. There will be a “transparent tender” and in return for an exclusive license, the winner will take on sole responsibility for the financing. Maskim Bayev, director of bookmaker "OneBett" said that the economies are growing faster than the Russian average in the designated zones. But he said the regions are much more likely to attract investment from locals and surrounding regions than foreigners given the political crisis. Crimea's tourist revenue is expected to fall sharply this summer as a result of the unrest, with the majority of tourists to the region traditionally coming from the rest of Ukraine. Out of Crimea’s 5.9 million tourists last year, Ukrainians accounted for 3 million of them. This summer this figure sank to 300,000 tourists following the annexation of the peninsula. So far in 2014, about 2 million tourists have visited the region, though those statistics don’t include the last few weeks of August, according to tourism officials. Around 80 percent of those visitors have been Russian.