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10 Mar, 2010 11:16

Russian casino finds neutral ground

Russian casino finds neutral ground

A cruise ship has begun selling tickets in Russia for regular trips from St. Petersburg to Helsinki that will allow the company to get around Russians laws banning gambling on most of its territory.

The Princess Maria cruise ship, acquired by line operator St. Peter Line, will operate a casino on the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea, reports Business FM.

The ship will operate under the Maltese flag and will carry out 5 trips a week and Konstantin Kopylov, Vice-President of the Russian Association for the development of the gambling industry, believes the company will attract players.

“It’s easier to buy a ticket for the ship, wait a little bit and then go out onto neutral waters than buy a plane ticket, fly to Rostov, Krasnodar and then waste 4 hours getting to the casino. I think it will enjoy some success.”

Andrey Mushkarev, CEO of the Inflot Cruise and Ferry, which is the general agent in Petersburg said that the project is not simply for the organization of gambling.

“When the ship is in port in St. Petersburg the casino will be closed. During movement within the territorial waters of the Russian Federation the casino, like the bar, the restaurant and all the rest, will be closed. A casino is not something exceptional; there is one on all ferries and cruise ships which travel on international lines. The casino will work only in neutral waters. I would like to emphasize that the main purpose of the ferry line is the transfer of passengers and the joining of Petersburg and Helsinki. Of course, the law of any country will be observed to the fullest.”

However, Samoil Binder, a member of the committee on the gaming and lottery business doesn’t think the business will become a gold mine.

“It’s a lot easier to find an illegal casino in Peter, in Moscow, and in the surround regions. And you can play there without really worrying. Of course the ferry-casino has the right to try, but I don’t think there will be the lines to get on like there were for the Lenin mausoleum.”