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Macau Mogul Looking to Raise Stake in the Russian Market

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Lawrence Ho sees Vladivostok as a potentially lucrative casino market, not least due to its proximity to millions of Chinese would-be casino gamblers.

Macau casino magnate Lawrence Ho plans to increase his stake in a proposed Vladivostok casino project to 85 percent. Ho’s partner, Oleg Drozdov, currently owns 30 percent but has agreed to sell half of his stake. If successful, the venture would allow Ho’s casinos to serve gamblers from both southern and northern China.

The yet-to-be-named resort casino is planned to contain 120 hotel rooms, 65 gaming tables and 800 slot machines, with construction costs expected to total around $650 million. That pales in comparison to major developments in Macau and Singapore, but would still make it Russia’s largest casino. While Russian gambling laws prohibited the activity in most of the country, the proposed location lies in one of four designated gambling zones.

Vladivostok uniquely situated to tap Chinese market

Law prohibits both land-based and online casinos in China from operating so many gamblers are looking for overseas options. A flight from Beijing to Vladivostok takes 2.5 hours, compared to roughly 3.75 hours to Macau.

In 2012 a report by Global Market Advisors estimated that the region could pull in $1 billion annually in gambling revenue. However, the political fallout stemming from Russia’s annexation of Ukraine could dampen interest from both investors and tourists.

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