Russia’s Putin and Japan’s PM Abe Meet, as Sochi Casino Readies to Welcome Gamblers After New Year

Posted on: December 21, 2016, 07:00h. 

Last updated on: December 21, 2016, 03:34h.

The first Sochi casino is scheduled to open on January 5, 2017, bringing gambling to the mountainside resort town in an effort to make the destination more appealing during the off-season.

Sochi casino Vladimir Putin Sinzo Abe
Japan’s Shinzo Abe (left) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are both expanding gambling, and the development could help expedite a peace treaty between the two leaders. The first Sochi casino will open next month. (Image: Associated Press/Japan Times)

Russia approved Sochi for casino gambling in August to help offset seasonal revenue pitfalls and also continue to pay down the monumental debt still lingering from the city’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in 2014. Sochi is the fifth special gaming zone created by the Russian Federation and joins the Primorsky Territory, Kaliningrad Oblast, Altai Krai, and Azov-City as the country’s designated gambling-friendly districts.

Sochi Casino and Resort, advertised as a five-star complex, will welcome visitors next month. In addition to the casino floor, the property features two restaurants, cabaret theatre, convention space, and other amenities.

“Despite the fact that Sochi is the most popular and one of the best resorts, we have the off-season curve and it should be smoothed out,” Krasnodar Region Minister of Tourism & Resorts Evgeny Kudelya said. “Such assets (the casino) will make a major contribution to solution of one more problem, the off-season problem.”

Though Sochi hosted the Winter Olympics, the city below the mountains actually has a subtropical climate. The 165,000-square-mile region is unofficially known as the “Sumer Capital” of Russia. Its busiest season is May through September where temperatures average in the upper 70s (Fahrenheit).

Putin & Abe Give & Take

The relationship between Russia and Japan has been strained since World War II when the latter accused the Kremlin of stealing the southern end of the Kuril Islands and expelling 17,000 Japanese citizens. The countries remain without a signed peace treaty.

Japan recently took steps to legalize gambling, a development that could create a $40 billion industry. But for those revenues to be realized, the island nation will need customers from other countries.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are ready to collude in order to better both states. The two met last week to discuss their relations, but no marquee peace breakthrough or economic development was announced.

Some Japanese want nothing to do with Putin, whose country is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the destruction of Aleppo.

Gambling Unifier

Japan is positioned to become the world’s next casino destination, but ground won’t be broke on a resort for at least 12 months. Over the next year, the country’s government will prepare a framework to regulate gambling before accepting applications for development.

MGM, Las Vegas Sands, Hard Rock, and others have all pledged multibillion-dollar investments to Japan should the nation fully legalize integrated casino resorts.

Abe and Putin’s peace treaty talks will continue early next year when the Japanese leader travels to Russia. If a pact is reached, the peacetime deal would better the former Soviet Union’s economy due to less sanctions and tariffs placed on oil exports.

In exchange, Abe might request Putin allow his people to more freely travel to Japan, and spend their money at the forthcoming casino resorts.