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Crimea Seeks to Become Next Las Vegas

Published: April 22, 2014 (Issue # 1806)



  • The gambling zone, like the special economic zone, is intended to lift Crimea “at least to the average Russian level, socially and fiscally.”
    Photo: Ralf Roletschek / Wikicommons

Crimea's plans to become the world's next Las Vegas have received the blessing of President Vladimir Putin, who presented a bill to the State Duma that could transform the formerly Ukrainian peninsula into Russia's fifth official gambling zone.

Crimean authorities proposed the idea originally and are convinced of its commercial prospects. A Crimean gambling center "stands a good chance of becoming a competitor to such sophisticated territories as Macau, Monaco and Las Vegas," Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev said Monday, PRIME reported.

Separate plans to create a special economic zone on the peninsula will help raise Crimea to the level of these ritzy competitors, Temirgaliev said. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced earlier this month that Russia will establish a special economic zone on the annexed peninsula, offering special tax breaks and trimming red tape in an effort to attract investors.

There are two possible models for the gambling zone, Temirgaliev said: either they will create a special gambling city in the popular resort area of Yuzhny Bereg, or they will allow "specially prepared tourist complexes" across Russia to run their own casinos.

According to Putin's bill, it is up to the Crimean authorities to determine the borders of the zone. They will also choose which of the above models to implement, said Viktor Zvagelsky, deputy head of the State Duma's Economic Policy Committee.

The gambling zone, like the special economic zone, is intended to lift Crimea "at least to the average Russian level, socially and fiscally," without requiring additional state funds, Zvagelsky said.

A gambling zone could make a major difference to the region's budget, especially given the pivotal role that tourism plays in the Crimean economy, he added. Azov-City, the single functioning gambling zone in Russia, brought in 140 million rubles in taxes last year ($3.9 million), of which 120 million came from the zone's three casinos. "So you can understand how profitable this is for a region's budget," Zvagelsky said.

In a statement last week, the Regional Development Ministry estimated that creating an integrated entertainment-tourism cluster in Crimea would bring an additional 600,000 tourists a year to Crimea and Sevastopol and add about 1 billion rubles ($28 million) to state coffers. Prior to the Russian annexation, the peninsula hosted about 3 million vacationers yearly.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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