Russia’s Version of Las Vegas Strip Opening Second Casino Resort

Posted on: October 15, 2020, 12:09h. 

Last updated on: October 19, 2020, 11:24h.

Russia’s planned version of the Las Vegas Strip will finally open its second resort, the Casino Shambhala. Operations will commence this Friday, Oct. 16.

Shambhala on the left, NagaWorld on the right, the two latest casinos under construction in Russia’s Far East. (Image: ResortX)

The first phase of the development — a RUB$3.5 billion ($45 million) investment — features a gaming floor measuring 56,000 square feet, three restaurants, and a theater. Guests who preregister online are given 2,000 complimentary rubles ($26) in gaming credit.

Casino Shambhala is just the second casino to open its doors in Russia’s Far East Primorye Economic Zone. Tigre de Cristal opened in October of 2015.

In 2009, Russia President Vladimir Putin banned gambling everywhere in Russia, with four exceptions: Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, and Primorye Krai. The latter was targeted to become the country’s version of Las Vegas or Macau, but more than a decade later, the region remains largely vacant.

Russia Hopes for Tourism Hub

Tigre de Cristal has struggled since its opening five years ago. Due to Primorye Krai being located in a remote area some 30 miles north of the downtown port city of Vladivostok, customers are scarce.

Vladivostok is a major port city in Russia near the borders of China and North Korea. It’s known for being a terminus on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which links to the city of Moscow by way of a seven-day journey. Most of the world’s wild Siberian tigers are located in Primorye.

Russian officials hope to make the economic zone a tourism and convention hub. Opening a second casino is a start.

Shambhala has a planned second phase, which is set to begin construction in 2022. Once complete, the total investment of the integrated resort will be approximately $104 million. The second phase plans include several hotels, golf courses, and an amusement park.

Officials behind the complex say it will cater to the masses — not only the high rollers.

“We are not going to become a closed club for the elite,” Shambhala developer and owner Maxim Smolentsev Manager told Inside Asian Gaming.

“Our casino will be truly popular — a place where people are always in a good mood, where each guest is a part of a large, incessant holiday and can have a pleasant time, regardless of how much they are ready to bet on the game,” he added.

Future Projects

Tigre de Cristal is betting big on a forthcoming boom in Primorye. It’s currently developing its second phase at a cost of $200 million. The expansion will double the number of VIP and mass gaming tables, and bring an additional 120 hotel rooms to the resort.

Along with Tigre and Shambhala, billionaire Chen Lip Keong remains committed to building a $300 million integrated casino resort. Chen, who made his fortune by obtaining a monopoly on gaming in Cambodia, plans to bring his NagaWorld brand to Russia. reported in July that a senior official in Primorye said there will be 11 casinos operational by 2023 in the Primorye gaming zone.