Russian Government Approves Crimea Gambling Zone

After banning all gambling in 2009, Russia has been looking for alternatives – the recently annexed Crimea may now become a hot spot for gambling activities, but the international community is sceptical.

Turning Crimea into a Gambling Hub

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a draft law to create a gambling zone in Crimea back in 2014. The draft finally has been approved with the backing of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The draft law came at the same time as Ukraine’s pushing to legalize gambling. Russian has been clamping on casinos at home and eying Crimea as a possible gaming hub, Ukraine pushed through legislation to make its own betting laws more attractive.

Recently, the country has released gambling reform bill text to legalize gambling in the country. Although it has been announced in September that gambling would take place exclusively on the territory of hotels the draft bill permits iGaming, and specifically online betting, online poker and retail bookmaking, allowing gambling outside of the designated zones.

The government put a limit on the number of licenses, gambling establishments and gaming equipment.

In addition, 20 casino licenses will be available only to hotels with the required criteria available. An online monitoring system will be put in place to ensure compliance with the law. The Commission will be expected to apply penalties to those who break license conditions.

However even if Ukraine does expand its domestic gaming industry, the turnover will likely be small compared to other regions.  

Russia’s Plan in Crimea

The Russian government has set aside a large area of 146,851 square meters (0.147 sq km/32.3 acres) called the ‘Gold Coast’ in Yalta along the Black Sea for the creation of the gambling zone.

In the past, the Gold Coast was a huge draw for tourists and it’s one of the reasons why it’s been chosen for the gambling site. The Gold Coast has been proposed by Aleksey Chelpanov, the head of the Crimean administration in Yalta, as the area was previously a health resort. It’s expected to set the zone up as a VIP-oriented gaming hub and lure visitors from overseas.  The region is expected to open for business by the end of 2022.

However, because of the annexing of Crimea in 2014, there has been tension between Russia and Ukraine, and experts suggest that it’s unlikely that many will make the trip, even with the temptation of a casino.

With this, the zone will be the fifth government designated ‘a gambling zone’ in the Russian territory, following “Siberian Coin” (Altai Republic), “Yantarnaya” (Kaliningrad), “Azov-city” (Rostov) and “Primorie” (Primorsky Krai). Outside of the approved zones gambling has been banned in Russia since 2009.

The international community recognizes Crimea to be part of Ukraine, although 17 UN member states besides Russia consider the territory to be Russian territory. 

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