East European casinos are multiplying across the region as economic development and increased tourism bring more visitors and investment to the region. Held back for so long by the communist governments that held power until the end of the 1980’s, the last decade has seen a huge jump in the number of casinos in Eastern Europe, principally in Russia and the Czech Republic, but also Poland, Croatia, and the Baltic States.
Russia is undoubtedly at the forefront of the expansion of East Europe casinos. Unlike many other countries in Europe, which restrict casinos to one or two per city, Russia has no such limits; consequently, there are at least 13 casinos in St. Petersburg and several in Moscow, as well. These venues are popular with local residents, but also foreign tourists drawn by St. Petersburg’s famed nightlife and cultural festivals. The transformation in Russia in recent years has seen a great deal of investment flow into the country, and casinos are benefiting from this greater liberalization and thriving as a result.
The other major player in the East Europe casinos scene is the Czech Republic, which is host to over 30 casinos. New casinos are being opened as a result of joint ventures between European developers and American gaming companies, and the results are to be seen in a range of new casino developments across the country, among the newest is the Millennium Casino in Prague, which has 12 tables and 250 slot machines.
Although these two countries offer the most variety of casino facilities, East Europe casinos can be found throughout the region. In particular, there are several impressive new casinos in Poland (including three in Krakow and three in the capital, Warsaw), Slovenia, and the former Soviet states of Ukraine and Belarus, who are eager to expand visitor numbers from Western Europe. Additionally, the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia play host to several casinos, again in partnership with foreign investors.
What all these countries have in common is that their casino sectors are based more closely on the American model than their Western European neighbors, with a relatively light regulatory framework. Thriving competition between rival companies helps keep the casino experience fresh and vibrant by requiring them to tailor their facilities more closely to customer requirements. As East Europe casinos continue to spread across the region, they will not only enhance the experience of visitors to beautiful cities like Prague, Budapest, and St. Petersburg, but act as a catalyst for economic development in those countries, as well.
By Adel Awwad