VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - The sleepy port town of Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, which was a closed-off military enclave during the Soviet era, is seeking to reinvent itself as an exclusive casino resort.
Last autumn, a casino complex opened in a new gaming zone just outside the city. A new theatre, an art museum and other facilities are also being built in a bid to transform the city into an entertainment hub for wealthy tourists from China and other neighbouring countries.
Investors are betting on the wilds of the Siberian forest being turned into an East Asian answer to Las Vegas.
The new casino complex, the Tigre de Cristal, is a 30-minute drive from Vladivostok International Airport. The lavish glass building is Hong Kong and Macau gambling tycoon Lawrence Ho's first foray into the Russian city.
Chief operating officer Craig Ballantyne says the city's location was the crucial factor in the decision to open the complex there. Vladivostok is less than three hours' flight from Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul.
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