Vladimir Putin’s Grand Plan for Economic Development: Build Casinos in Crimea

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 21 2014 5:57 PM

Vladimir Putin’s Grand Plan for Economic Development: Build Casinos in Crimea

157516475-late-night-gambler-plays-the-slot-machines-03-may-2005
When in doubt, build casinos.

Photo by PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Now that Vladimir Putin has Crimea for his very own, how to redecorate? Fear not, Putin has a plan. It’s not a monorail, but it’s close. On Monday, Putin unveiled a master plan for his new digs—casinos. Under the draft of a new law designating Crimea as a “gaming zone,” Moscow appears to have hitched the newly annexed peninsula’s economic revival on becoming a Black Sea Sin City.

The plan is a bit of a reversal for Putin, who has actively campaigned against gambling in the past, calling it a “dangerous addiction and a magnet for organized crime,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. In 2009, Russia went so far as to ban casinos and only four areas in the country are allowed to operate gambling houses. The move to make Crimea the fifth, Businessweek reports, comes after the Kremlin took a hard look at the country’s, and the region’s, bottom line.

It’s part of an effort noted by Bloomberg News last month to make Crimea less reliant on subsidies from Moscow. The region is expected to run a 55 billion ruble ($1.5 billion) budget deficit this year and may receive some $2.8 billion of emergency subsidies, an expense the Russian economy can ill afford.
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Crimea has been plagued by its fair share of economic problems even before it changed teams last month. “During Ukraine's difficult transition from Soviet Communism the Crimean economy has suffered from corruption and neglect,” the BBC reports. And it’s well known that casinos are great for curing corruption.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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