Russia Opens New Super Casino Complex

The much anticipated Casino Shambhala and the surrounding resort is the second such complex constructed in Russia. These new mega-casinos cropping up across the country are an attempt to directly compete with Las Vegas and Macau. Commencing operations just two weeks ago, the new casino resort has been an immediate success.

Vladivostok port.

The port city of Vladivostok is to be the main hub of Russia’s answer to Las Vegas and Macau. Local officials have set plans in motion that will see 11 new casinos fully operational before the end of 2023. ©DVFU/Pixabay

In terms of development cost, the Casino Shambhala has been calculated at roughly $45 million as an initial investment. For this, the developers were able to construct a 56,000 square feet casino floor and gaming space, three large restaurants, and an auditorium room as a centerpiece to the complex.

Of course, at the center of the business model is the casino itself. With an enormous area to house with classic gambling hardware, the casino’s investors are keen to drum up some instant excitement in the new project. One incentive that has been utilized is to reward players early that declare their interest in pre-booking. Guests had the opportunity to pre-register and earn a $30 bonus to use on the casino floor.

President Vladimir Putin previously outlawed gambling across the entire country, with just a few exceptions. Those were the four regions of Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, and Primorye Krai. It is in the far east in Primorye Krai that the Casino Shambhala sits, and is the second such installment following the opening of Tigre de Cristal in Vladivostok. The region has been touted as the Russian answer to Las Vegas or Macau but is yet to make anywhere near the impact of the two biggest gambling behemoths.

Russia Developing Tourism Hotspot

The opening of the Casino Shambhala this week is only the initial piece of a two-phase plan. Another $104 million of investment capital has been penned for a larger expansion action at the resort. This package will allow the developers to build several hotels, golf courses, and amusement parks in and around the local region.

Officials overseeing the project say the difference between the new complex at Shambhala and other similar casino developments in the region is that this will cater to the masses, not just those with huge piles of cash to burn through. The casino aims to become not just a club for the elite, but also cater to a broader touristic customer base. The emphasis on betting will likely reduce as more variation on leisure options are introduced to the region.

In truth, the Tigre de Cristal resort has struggled since opening its doors as it sits in a very remote region of Russia, 30-miles north of the port city Vladivostok. Whilst Vladivostok is a busy destination with international visitors arriving by sea and train, there is very little migration to the surrounding areas, something the casino will need to change if it is to guarantee its long-term survival.

The Russian government is really determined to transform the economic zone into tourism and commercialized convention hub. Building a network of casinos, better infrastructure, and more travel connections are seen as being fundamental enabling factors on this quest.

The Far East of Russia is seen as the perfect place to host these ambitious building projects, as it is located in a very strong area geographically. Notwithstanding the impact of further quarantine measures across the Asian peninsula, then this new casino complex being constructed just beyond the borders of Vladivostok could stand to become a highly significant region for future developments.

Future Casino Projects

Both the Casino Shambhala and the Tigre de Cristal are betting big on an explosion of fortunes for the Primorye region. Phase two of the Tigre de Cristal construction project has already been given the green light to go ahead. At a cost of $200 million it is anticipated to bring a massive increase in the VIP accommodation options, a major overhaul of the gaming facilities currently on offer, and bolster the overstretched customer services department that was designed to deal with a much smaller initial capacity.

Tigre de Cristal and Shambhala are not the only two ventures seeking to make a dent in this lucrative new casino frontier. Asian billionaire, Chen Lip Keong, has stated his intentions to build a massive new integrated resort costing upwards of $300 million. The NagaWorld brand which holds a monopoly on gambling in Cambodia has made Chen extremely wealthy, he intends to replicate this business model in the developing economic zone in Russia’s far east.

Besides the initial three casino projects we’ve mentioned here, many others are also in the pipeline. On the quest to truly compete against Las Vegas and Macau, local officials have already put in motion plans to build a total of 11 casinos in the region. The first phase of this project is expected to reach completion by 2023, with a long-term roadmap setting total casinos at an even greater number and scale.

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