The Russian State Duma has approved a bill to establish gambling zones in Crimea and Sochi. It's aimed at making the areas more popular for tourists, and attracting more investment.
The exact location of the gambling zones will be determined by the local government, ITAR-TASS said.
"The creation of a gambling zone in Crimea will attract additional investment to the region, create jobs and improve the tax base,” said Anatoly Karpov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee.
A gambling zone could add an additional $720 million into the Crimean economy, say analysts. Moreover “an increase in tourism as well as the development of hotel businesses and catering can be expected,” Karpov added.
The head of the Crimean government Sergey Aksyonov said that most probably the gambling zone will be located in Yalta, but where exactly has not been decided.
“It will be set in a certain single spot,” Aksyonov promised.
Investment is expected to be at least $100 million and could reach $1 billion. Many potential investors have already sent proposals to the authorities.
At the second reading of the bill on Friday government officials supported the amendments to establish a gambling zone in Sochi.
Most likely it will be located in Gornaya Karusel which is part of the Esto-Sadok Krasnaya Polyana resort. It currently belongs to Sberbank and does not attract tourists.
Gambling was restricted in Russia in 2009 and is only allowed in Altai, Krasnodar, Primorye and the Kaliningrad regions.