Russia’s Planned Version of Las Vegas Strip Set to Open Second Casino Resort

Posted on: July 30, 2020, 08:12h. 

Last updated on: July 30, 2020, 10:20h.

Russia’s version of the Las Vegas Strip will soon finally get its second casino resort, the developers of Shambala Casino saying it will open “this summer.”

Russia casino Primorye Far East
The Shambala Casino in Russia’s Far East will open in the coming months. (Image: ResortX)

Shambala CJSC, which opened a casino in Krasnodar back in 2004, says its $111.5 million integrated resort in the Far East Primorye gaming zone is close to welcoming guests. The company says the $48.8 million first phase has been completed, and the property will open its doors as remaining construction continues.

In the short term, we see the Primorye integrated resort casino as a pan-Asian resort that attracts tourists from many countries of the world,” said Maxim Smolentsev, founder and CEO of Shambala CJSC.

Smolentsev said the property will target gamblers from Japan, China, South Korea, and Cambodia. While the casino will welcome high-end players, he adds the resort will not “become a closed, elite club.”

A New Duopoly

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2009 banned gambling everywhere, with four special exceptions — Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, and Primorye Krai.

Primorye Krai was designated by Putin as the future home of Russia’s gambling epicenter. But more than a decade later, only one casino has opened: Tigre de Cristal. The casino was developed by Hong Kong billionaire Lawrence Ho, who founded and is the CEO of Melco Resorts, one of the six licensed casino operators in Macau.

Ho later sold off his entire stake in Tigre at a deep discount after the casino failed to produce a profit. Today, it’s controlled by Suncity Group Holdings, one of Macau’s largest VIP junket group organizers. Suncity is controlled by flamboyant businessman Alvin Chau.

Tigre will lose its monopoly on the Primorye Krai casino strip this summer, but that actually might be good news for the resort. Located in a remote area some 30 miles north of the downtown for the port city of Vladivostok, Tigre and the region needs more attractions to lure patrons to the district.

The Shambala Casino floor will measure approximately 56,000 square feet, and features a hotel, conference center, sports complex, spa, and retail shopping.

When in the US, Smolentsev spends time at his Florida mansion, which he bought in 2017 for $15 million. The property, located at 973 Hillsboro Mile, is just 20 miles south of billionaire Steve Wynn’s beachfront complex, which he purchased last year for $43 million.

Soon to Boom? 

Despite only one casino opening and the coronavirus wreaking havoc on global economies, Russia isn’t folding on its Las Vegas dreams in Primorye.

Along with the Shambala Casino, billionaire Chen Lip Keong says his $300 million NagaWorld integrated resort is still a go. The businessman, who made his fortune by obtaining the lone gaming license in Cambodia back in the 1990s for a 70-year period, says he likes the “entrepreneurial spirit” of the Primorye area.

A senior official in Primorye said recently that the gaming zone expects to have 11 casinos up and running by 2023, a tall claim considering the strip is currently largely vacant.