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Howard Stutz

Russian fishing territory angling for chips

22 May 2012

A Russian territory best known for fish processing and heavy industry wants to become the next Macau.

Nash Dom Primorye, a wholly owned government corporation of the Russian Federation's Primorsky Territory, is expected to announce it is seeking developers to build a casino complex near the port city of Vladivostok.

Las Vegas-based Galaviz & Co. will be named lead strategic adviser on the request for concept process. The company is headed by gaming industry consultant Jonathan Galaviz, who spent six months last year as the interim dean at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas's campus in Singapore.

A formal announcement by Russian officials is expected Wednesday at the Global Gaming Expo Asia in Macau. A website detailing the development plans is expected to go live Wednesday, as well.

Vladivostok is one of four areas deemed by the Russian government as an Integrated Entertainment Zone where legal casino gaming would be allowed.

Nash Dom Primorye is seeking developers for a complex in the outer areas of Vladivostok that would include several casinos and luxury hotels, a yacht club, shopping malls, a ski resort, golf courses and year-round recreational amenities.

In a statement, Marina Lomakina, general director of Nash Dom Primorye, said the region would capitalize on its close proximity to Tokyo and Seoul, each just two hours away by plane, and other Asian destinations.

She said the entertainment zone, approximately 12 miles from the new Vladivostok International Airport and 31 miles from the city, aims to capitalize on the significant economic growth on Asia's economies and to create a cultural experience for tourists.

It's unclear if it could rival Macau, which collected $33.5 billion from gamblers in 2011. Other Asian markets, including Japan, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand, have explored or are moving forward with casino developments.

"Over the next five years, the Russian Federation will continue to have a strong strategic interest in the economic development of the Far East region," Lomakina said. "Our view is that the tourism sector is a strategic economic opportunity that has yet to be fully developed. We believe that the private sector will be interested in the tourism and casino gaming potential of the [entertainment zone]."

Lomakina said the integrated resort model being sought for Vladivostok is similar to developments in Las Vegas and Singapore.

"We believe the [entertainment zone] will create a compelling experience for Asian tourists seeking a destination that is near, but culturally different," Lomakina said.

Vladivostok is scheduled to host the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in September at two recently built Hyatt Hotel complexes.