Michael Boettcher, the owner of one of the erstwhile largest Russian gambling companies – Storm International, – told in his interview for Vedomosti newspaper how he lost all his gaming assets in a single day and suffered huge losses as a result of closing down his business in Russia.
In 2008, at the time of the creation of special zones for gambling, and, in fact, ban on the gambling business in Moscow, Boettcher’s company managed five major Moscow casinos, and a network of bars and restaurants.
By the early 1990s, Boettcher came to Moscow as a gambling consultant and manager of the small four-table casino Elite. Here he founded his gaming company Storm International. Before Moscow, a businessman had already gained over 25 years of working experience in various fields, from taxi driver to croupier on cruise ships; and he also founded a consulting company and a croupier school, British Gaming Academy.
In 2009, a change in Russian legislation led to a ban on gambling business almost all over Russia except for a number of the regions, where four special zones were created. After such a shocking stroke on the gambling business, Boettcher was forced to close all his casinos in Russia and fire 6,000 employees.
“How did it happen? How did I lose my business? I was a billionaire on paper, and the next day I no longer had a business,” he said.
From a number of possible reasons leading to the authorities’ fatal decision for the gambling business, the Briton highlighted the accessibility, wide abundance of slot halls and loss of control over their management.
According to Boettcher, he offered other market participants to close all slot halls. Also, the businessman expressed his willingness to abandon his slot clubs, thereby sacrificing half of his profits. But other owners of the largest casinos regarded his proposal as a desire “to wangle all the business.”
Boettcher did not see any logic in the law which essentially prohibits the gambling business. “There was indeed an urgent need for change, it was obvious. But there was no need to close all the casinos,” he added.
Delving into the details, an entrepreneur noted that he had visited all the gambling zones which had been allocated in Russia for casinos. “Business is struggling for survival there,” said Boettcher.
After the closure of his casinos in Moscow, Boettcher refused to continue doing business in Russia and opened casinos in neighboring Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and several other countries.
Boettcher described the current state of the market as “highly competitive” and “with complex relations with partners.” In his opinion, the governments of different countries only tighten the business requirements, it has become difficult to work in all areas.
“Still, I’m excited, because the other day we had the opportunity to open a casino in one of the South-East Asian countries, but I wouldn’t like to talk about it yet,” the businessman said.
Today, Boettcher no longer intends to work in Russia as he sees a prospect for himself only in the countries of the Asian region.
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