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The boundaries of a gambling zone in Crimea will be determined by the Crimean executive authorities. A final decision on the Crimean Las Vegas has not yet been made but acting Crimean head Sergey Aksyonov has said the gambling zone will most likely be located in Yalta, a cultural and tourist center on the Black Sea peninsula.
It was earlier proposed to accommodate the gambling zone on the peninsula’s southern coast far off from populated areas or near the town of Gurzuf or scatter gambling facilities all over the peninsula.
Experts say the Crimean gambling zone may yield up to $750 million for the regional budget annually. Besides, legislators “expect an increase in tourist flows into the region and the development of hotel business and public catering.”
The new law also stipulates the establishment of a gambling zone in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
The Sochi gambling zone will be accommodated within the boundaries of Olympic facilities, which were built using the funds of private investors.
The head of Russia’s largest lender Sberbank, German Gref, earlier came up with an initiative to establish a gambling zone in Sochi.
Sberbank controls the Krasnaya Polyana firm, which built the Gornaya Karusel (Mountain Carousel) alpine skiing sports and tourist center for the Winter Olympics.
The law on gambling zones in Sochi and Crimea was adopted by the State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament on July 4 and approved by the upper house on July 9.
The Russian legislation earlier allowed the establishment of gambling zones in the Altai Territory in West Siberia, the Krasnodar Territory in southern Russia, the Primorye Territory in the Far East and the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
The gambling zones established by now include the Yantarnaya zone in the Kaliningrad Region, the Sibirskaya Moneta (Siberian Coin) zone in the Altai Territory, the Primorye zone in the Primorye Territory and the Azov City zone in the Krasnodar Region. Of these four zones, only the Azov City gambling zone functions most fully.
The ban on gambling (except bookmaking offices and betting terminals) outside specially assigned territories came into force on July 1, 2009. The ban was imposed in the wake of a large shortfall of budget revenues from gambling business: the state could collect no more than $480 million in taxes annually compared with the gambling industry’s incomes of up to $5.5 billion.
Also, the large number and accessibility of gambling outlets gave rise to gambling addiction. Expert estimates show that over 2 million Russians suffered from these disorders in the late 2000s.