While casinos in Siberia and the Russian Far East have temporarily closed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Tigre de Cristal in the Primorye gaming zone is still moving ahead with an expansion plans which will see the addition of further hotel rooms and a new Suncity VIP room.
Casino resorts in Russia’s Primorye and Siberian Coin gaming zones have extended the suspensions of their gaming operations for an indefinite period amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Tigre de Cristal in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone announced via Instagram that “the date of its [re-opening] will become known as soon as the overall epidemiologic situation in Russia improves”, while Altai Palace in the Siberian Coin gambling zone made a similar statement.
President Vladimir Putin has extended a national no-work order through the end of April in a bid to halt the spread of the virus, it was reported at the start of the month. Russian officials stated that so far Moscow and St. Petersburg have emerged as hot spots for the respiratory disease.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak situation has been escalating in the Russian Federation, the Russian Government has announced a number of measures to control the outbreak,” Tigre de Cristal’s owner Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings said in a statement, following its decision to suspend casino operations on the 28 March. “Tigre de Cristal, the gaming property operated under a subsidiary of the company in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, will be following the suggestions of the Russian Government by temporarily suspending its gaming operations.
“The aim of the temporary suspension is to prevent crowds gathering during the pandemic. The Group fully supports President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Government’s measures to combat COVID-19, as the health and safety of our guests and our team members are of paramount importance.”
Summit Ascent reported total net revenue of HKD532.8m ($99m) in its full year 2019 results, up by 15.0 percent year-on-year. Gaming revenue for the period was also up by 15 percent to HKD482.2m, thanks to improved VIP and mass market performances. Summit Ascent posted a profit of HKD82m for the period, compared to a profit of approximately HKD7.6m a year earlier.
On 23 March, the company’s executive director Eric Landheer tendered his resignation with immediate effect, citing “his personal disagreement on the strategic business development directions with the board”.
According to a statement by Summit Ascent, this disagreement stemmed from different views on “the company’s future investment plan and the allocation of financial resources; the company’s business development plan and its timing of implementation; and corporate governance matters in relation to future and/or potential actions of the company”.
Suncity Group Holdings acquired a controlling stake in Summit Ascent last year. The company’s chairman Alvin Chau said the company’s new VIP room at Tigre de Cristal is set to open in the near future.
“We are excited to apply our extensive experience in the rolling chip business to move up the value chain at Tigre de Cristal and have been rapidly making alterations and improvements to attract and retain our discerning clientele,” said Chau, who also became chairman of Summit Ascent in June 2019.
“We are also excited to announce that the construction of our luxurious new Suncity VIP room at Tigre de Cristal is nearing completion and will welcome VIP guests soon.
“Later this year, we expect to add approximately 30 hotel rooms through an extension to the existing property, thereby mitigating our shortage of rooms on peak weekend times and expanding our lodging capacity by approximately 25 percent.”
In addition, a new private club, a new hot pot section in the Pan-Asian restaurant and a stand-alone noodle bar will be added to the property’s amenities.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed casino operator NagaCorp said in its 2019 annual report that Naga Vladivostok, its integrated resort project in the Primorye zone, is likely to open in the second half of 2021.
“We anticipate that our Vladivostok project will open in summer 2021,” said Tim McNally, the company’s chairman. “Based on the current state of development, our gaming and resort development project in Vladivostok, Russia remains broadly on schedule.
“Certain key personnel have been appointed to monitor various aspects of the progress of the project,” McNally added. “The group believes that its strategy to diversify its business geographically and expand into new casino markets will drive revenue growth in the long term.”