Russia Approves New Casino Gaming Zone in Crimea

  • Gaming zone got approval after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed legislation
  • Significant casino operator already committed to setting up gaming establishment in new zone
  • Sanctions preventing EU and US investment into Crimea still in place, ruling out many operators
  • Eligible casino companies will likely have to be Russian or come from nations that have good relations with country
pin showing location of Crimea
Russia has given its approval for a new casino zone to be developed in Crimea, with the first gaming establishment expected to open in 2022. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A plan has long been in the works

Russia has given its formal approval for the development of a new zone for casinos in the annexed territory of Crimea. This came after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a piece of legislation giving the ‘Golden Coast’ gaming area the green light.

The government plans for the first casino in the area to be open by 2022. The site for the new gambling zone will be located in the region of Yalta. 

a significant casino operator already on board for one of the region’s new casinos

The casino development project has been in the planning stages for the past five years. According to the Russian administrator in Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, there is a significant casino operator already on board for one of the region’s new casinos. This partnership still requires official confirmation. 

Potential roadblocks for operators getting involved

When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a number of major Western nations introduced financial sanctions on the region. It was not long ago either that the European Union extended the ban which prevents any EU states from investing in Crimea, which means it will remain in place for at least another twelve months. 

any casino companies that are looking to be part of this new casino zone in Crimea will likely have to be Russian

In September, the United States confirmed that its sanctions on the region would stay as they are unless Russia removes itself from Crimea. As a result, any casino companies that are looking to be part of this new casino zone in Crimea will likely have to be Russian or come from a nation that has good relations with the country. These include the likes of Cambodia and China.

The major Cambodian casino company NagaCorp is launching the Naga Vladivostok Casino in Russia in 2020. The establishment will be set up in the far-eastern gaming zone of Primorye.

The gambling sector in Russia

In 2009, most forms of gambling were made illegal in Russia. Casinos could only operate in four designated zones in the country’s somewhat isolated areas. Two more gaming locations were added in 2014, but to date, it is only Primorye that has managed to gain the attention of non-Russian casino operators.

Crimea is already home to sports betting shops. With the newly approved project, locals will be able to look forward to casino gambling too.

There are some potential logistical issues for the new gaming zone in Crimea. The closest airport to the area is a military facility 70 kilometers away, but there are plans in place to create a terminal for civilians.