Taiwan-invested Russian casino opens for trial run

Taipei, Oct. 9 (CNA) A Taiwanese-invested casino in Russia's Primorye Krai near Vladivostok attracted a large crowd during a trial run Thursday, leaving the owners optimistic that the project can be a success.
Nearly 5,000 guests, including the Primorye governor, the region's tourism head and local tycoons, thronged into the Tigre De Cristal casino in less than four hours Thursday night, said Taiwan's Firich Enterprises Co. (????). The showing demonstrated the government's high hopes for the development of the integrated entertainment zone in which the casino is located as well as the big tourism draws casinos represent, the company said. Firich, a leading maker of POS (point-of-sales) equipment and gaming machines and listed on Taiwan's over-the-counter market, holds a 25 percent share in First Gambling Company of the East (FGCE), which owns the US$172 million casino. Firich Chairman Bill Hsu (???) said the gaming industry lies at the high end of the service sector, with casinos at its core and peripheral businesses such as hotels, boutiques and entertainment thriving around them. Because the IEZ is only about 20 kilometers away from the airport, the complex will not have to worry about a shortage of customers, with the casino expected to draw gamblers from China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, Hsu said. The casino will have other advantages. It will have the market to itself until 2018, when a second casino is expected to be built, will be exempt from paying sales tax until 2020, and will face a gambling tax of only 1 percent, compared with 39 percent in Macau and 25 percent in Malaysia. (By Tien Yu-ping and Lilian Wu)