Russia is well along the development path to establishing a Gambling Zone in Crimea, according to the regional head, Sergey Aksenov. He told reporters yesterday: “the gambling zone is to start operating [in Crimea] by September 2019”. The decision to establish such an enterprise was taken at the end of 2017, while a a preliminary location has already been decided upon.
Aksenov reported that the gambling zone has an investor that is ready to join in the project, but, considering the sanctions, he would withhold details for now as discussions are still on-going. “There is a large operator that is ready to join in the project implementation. <…> There are some aspects, chiefly linked to the sanctions regime, so there is a need to preserve the incognito for the one that will be doing it.”
Aksenov earlier said that an investor is ready to pour about 8 billion rubles (US$141.3 million) into the project, with annual revenues reckoned at 25 billion rubles (US$441.5 million).
Gambling in Russia is highly restricted, and is legal in only four other specially arranged zones in the Altai, Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, and Primorsky regions. Customers are expected to be from the Middle East and Asia.
Following years of neglect by Ukraine, Crimea was absorbed into the Russian Federation in 2014, a situation that sparked sanctions being imposed upon Russia by the West.
Crimea first became a part of the Russian Empire in 1783 as the result of the Russo-Turkish War (1768-1774). Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, it became an autonomous republic within the USSR, and was then subsequently transferred to Ukraine by then Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, partly for ease of administration, partially as a ‘gift’ to his then wife, who was from the Ukraine.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was formed as an independent state in 1991 and most of the peninsula was reorganized as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, being largely Russian-speaking and pro-Moscow. This created political tensions between Kiev, Crimea, and Moscow with a resulting lack of investment into the region by Kiev.
In March 2014, following the Ukrainian revolution, a subsequent takeover of Crimea by pro-Russian separatists was held in Crimea, and a referendum (deemed unconstitutional by the Ukrainian Constitutional Court in Kiev) was held on the issue of reunification with Russia; the official result was that a large majority of Crimeans wished to join with Russia. Russia then annexed Crimea to incorporate the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as subjects of Russia. Since then Russia has been spending billions of rubles to upgrade and improve infrastructure.
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