Russian officials are weighing a proposal to create a gambling zone with casinos and hotels in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed from Ukraine, according to four people with direct knowledge of the planning, Bloomberg reports.
Officials discussed the option at a March 21 meeting led by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Russia’s ministries of economy, finance and regional development have an April 15 deadline to present a plan for the gambling project with spending and revenue estimates, the people said.
Russia is seeking to make Crimea less reliant on the state budget. The region may run a fiscal deficit of about 55 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) this year, which Russia plans to fully cover, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said last week in an interview on state television.
According to RFE/RL, Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov confirmed the Bloomberg report that "creating a gambling zone in Crimea" is "one of the proposals being discussed."