Russian parliament approves Crimea/Sochi gambling zones

    Russia’s State Duma has passed a bill establishing gambling zones in the newly annexed region of Crimea and in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics were held.
    The move is aimed at boosting tourism revenue and investment. The exact location of the zones will be established by the local governments.
    “The creation of a gambling zone in Crimea will attract additional investment to the region, create jobs and improve the tax base,” said Anatoly Karpov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee.
    The Crimean zone is likely to be located in Yalta, but the exact location hasn’t been determined, according to local media.
    Acting Crimean Governor Sergey Aksenov recently told Russian news agency Itar-Tass that casinos would not be scattered across the peninsula, but are likely to be concentrated all in one place.
    On 23 April, Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev said in an interview with the Russian pro-government newspaper Izvestiya that the Crimean authorities had already attracted nearly $1.5 billion in private investment.
    Gambling is banned in Russia, apart from in specially designated zones. However, many of the zones have not attracted the expected revenue or tourism dollars as they tend to be remote and infrastructure is poor.
    The zone in the Far East in Vladivostok is seen as one of the most promising, with Goldman Sachs recently touting the zone as one of its top picks among the smaller Asian markets, along with Cambodia. It pointed to the exceptionally low tax regime, but said political instability and infrastructure may be issues.