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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

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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