November is a memorable month for the Russian gambling industry. The first Tigre De Cristal Casino was opened on November 11, 2015 in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone after one month of its soft opening on October 8.
Soft opening or test opening of Tigre De Cristal took place on October 8. The soft opening is a common international practice. Casinos want to check all systems after extensive internal testing. The gambling establishment receives feedbacks from its first customers in to hone and bring to perfection all its operations. The employees of casinos collect and systematize all opinions of visitors. They also debug all systems.
Over one thousand guests, including government officials, businessmen, journalists, and those who had been lucky enough to receive an invitation attended the soft opening of Tigre De Cristal. They enjoyed free drinks, various delicious dishes, live music, and, official speeches. The performance of Eric Landheer, a Director of Corporate Finance and Strategy, was especially promising:
Despite the challenges of recent times, we have preserved a positive attitude and faith in the reliability of our investment in Primorye. We have fulfilled our obligations by investing 200 million dollar. We are going to invest 500 million dollars in the second phase, and our investment will eventually rise to 900 million dollars. We have fully supplied our company with qualified staff. At the moment of casino opening over 1 thousand workers will form the staff of the company. After the successful finish of the second phase we are going to hire roughly 3 million people. Our aim is to raise the Russian gambling business to the world standards of transparency and fairness with the high level of services and best global practices.
After the obligatory official speeches and the end of the ceremony for VIP guests, casino opened its doors to all visitors at 8.00 p.m. Over the next four hours almost 5,000 players and curious visitors stormed the entrance to the casino. Over 9,000 customers received a club card of Tigre De Cristal in the first hours.
The taking of photographs and videos had been permitted, so social networks were full of photos and comments from those who had attended the Opening Ceremony of Tigre De Cristal. Users shared their emotions and opinions, for example:
Friends! Yesterday we visited the soft opening of the first casino in Primorsky region. The first thing that caught my eye was parking. There were no free places for many people. Cars were left on the road. When you are going to visit a casino, you expect to see a lot of pathos, well-founded pathos. For example, the building should have the shape of a tiger, and the entrance should resemble its mouth. Or it should be a huge skyscraper. There are just two rectangles here. As for the atmosphere, it was permitted to take photos. This was quite confusing. The staff was very friendly that was a great advantage. There are a lot of small imperfections inside. This casino will be in great demand among the Chinese. What can be said in the end? Everything that was in Artem remains in Artem.
Tigre De Cristal was visited by 20 thousand individuals during one month since its soft opening till the Grand Opening Ceremony.
The casino was closed to the public from 08:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. on November 11 because of the official opening ceremony. The ceremony was closed, i.e. it was attended only by those who had invitations: governmental dignitaries, members of parliaments, officials of partner companies and representatives of regional business, as well as journalists of local and national media. The event was also attended by VIP guests, a CEO of Melco International Lawrence Ho and a Vice-Governor of Primorsky Territory Sergey Nekhaev.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Craig Ballantyne, a CEO of G1 Entertainment, who welcomed guests in an unusual outfit - the Scottish national dress, expressed confidence that this project would attract additional investment in all areas of tourism in the region. The next speaker, a Director of Corporate Finance and Strategy of G1 Entertainment Eric Landheer, assured those who were present at the ceremony:
"We want to raise the quality of services in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone to the highest level, so we constantly ready to handle our errors, so all imperfection will be properly corrected. We will also improve the operation of our resort complex."
Lawrence Ho invested approximately 200 million dollars in the construction of the first gambling and resort complex called Tigre De Cristal. These funds were used to build a casino that occupied the area of roughly 8,000 sq.m. and a hotel with 120 rooms. Currently Tigre De Cristal is the largest and most technically equipped casino in Russia. It has 498 slot machines, 42 tables for the traditional board games, and 25 VIP tables.
According to the Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, all rooms in the hotel of the first casino in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone have already been booked till the end of the year:
The first object is practically put into operation, and the fact that there were no free rooms in the hotel made a good impression. They were booked in advance, primarily by our guests from abroad. This indicates the significant economic benefits for the Primorsky region.
The official part of the Grand Opening Ceremony was followed by the afterparty, where the guests were entertained by the show-ballet Soho Dolls and the pop group Band'Eros. Tigers were running on the walls of the main hall. The roulette was being spun. Cards were forming combinations, and rolled dice were forming piles. These effects were demonstrated to visitors using the huge projector. The dancers in tiger body paint performed for visitors. The magnificent fireworks appeared at 11.00 p.m. above the Muravinnaya Bay, which marked the end of the official celebration.
The Scandal with a Tiger
One of the heroes of the Grand Opening Ceremony was the mascot of Tigre de Cristal, namely a five-month-old Siberian tiger cub called Crystal, which had been purchased for the casino for the Wonderful Zoo located near Ussuriysk. Crystal was paraded on the scene only ten minutes, but it was enough to cause a great scandal. Animal welfare advocates noticed that the tiger was looking sleepy and heavily sedated. They thought that Crystal was heavily drugged, because the tiger was bleary-eyed and dazed.
Indeed, the wild animal could be afraid of many people, the noise and flashes of cameras, so it had been sedated before the ceremony using sleeping pills. Zoo director Catherine Zotova explained the situation. She said that the sedative had been absolutely harmless, and Crystal was too valuable for the casinos and zoo to risk its life doing anything potentially dangerous to its health. However environmentalists and animal welfare advocates had a cause to criticize this event, and even the police launched an investigation concerning the treatment of animals from the Red Book. Tigre De Cristal was obliged to justify itself:
''Tigre de Cristal is surely against the cruel attitude towards animals. We intend to preserve Siberian tigers via various corporate social responsibility initiatives. We provide support and funds for food and accommodation of a tiger cub, - said the representative of the casino in the report. - We wrote a letter to employees of the zoo, expressing our deep concern about the incident. The staff assured us that a light sedative had been injected to a tiger in order to transport the animal and allow it to prevent aggressiveness from the public and noise.''
On November 19, Craig Ballantyne personally visited the Wonderful Zoo to see the mascot of the casino. Crystal felt good. The tiger cub allowed the CEO of the Tigre de Cristal complex to pet itself, feed it from the hands, and even take some photos.
It is expected that Tigre De Cristal will attract VIP players from North China. This is the first of at least eight casinos that will be constructed in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone. Our final aim is to increase the flow of tourists from China, Japan, South Korea, and the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone as a competitor of similar resorts in Las Vegas and Macau. According to experts, the implementation of this project should attract to Primorye about 8-10 million tourists annually.
The construction of the second phase of the complex will begin in spring of 2016. This phase involves the expansion of the playing area to 154 000 square meters, and 4 casinos, 4 hotels, several restaurants and shopping malls, theaters and sports clubs should have been built by 2019. Craig Ballantyne told about this:
"The construction of the so-called phase 2 is scheduled for 2016, and commissioning of all the objects is scheduled for 2018. It is supposed to be significantly larger. Apart from the casino, it will have a large concert hall, shopping mall, as well as new restaurants and bars. We also want to offer our guests excellent conditions for recreation and entertainment, namely bars, restaurants, spa, nightclubs, as well as live performances of Russian and foreign stars on the main stage of Tigre de Cristal."
After the end of the third phase of construction in 2022, the Tigre De Cristal complex will unite five casinos, seven hotels, and a water park. The Head of Tourism Department of Primorsky Krai Konstantin Shestakov stated: "The aim is not only to build gambling centers. We are talking about the transformation of Primorye into a real recreation area."
Competitors are keeping up with Melco International. Summit Ascent, NagaCorp, Diamond Fortune Holdings, and Royal Time Group already have projects. These companies promise to have them completed by 2022. The investment agreements worth $1.4 billion with these key investors have already been signed. After the completion of the construction this gambling zone of 620 hectares will provide 20,000 individuals with jobs. They will have to manage and maintain operations of 16 hotels, 8 casinos, 12 guest villas, several restaurants, recreation centers, a yacht club, a ski resort, multifunctional trade and exhibition center, theaters, shopping malls, conference centers, and other objects.
The portal Casinoz will continue to monitor the occurring events and familiarize our readers with all the interesting news related to Tigre De Cristal and the entire Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone.