Russian casino not welcome in Costa Rica, VP says

The Arias government says that if the Russian casino group, Storm International BV, complies with all the current regulations it cannot be stopped from setting up shop in Costa Rica, according to the country’s vice-president, Laura Chinchilla.

In an interview with the Spanish language daily, Al Día, Chinchilla said that the government is moving quickly to revise the Gambling regulation and to stop the Russian group from coming to Costa Rica, which is expected by July.

The Russians made the headlines when they decided to move shop to Costa Rica after Russia placed restrictions on casinos operating in major urban areas like Moscow. Storm International became embroiled in controversy when it announced it would set up shop in Costa Rica and refused to divulge the names of its Costa Rican partners.

The group is rumoured to be eyeing Escazú as a possible location for its mega casino operation, however, the mayor of Escazú, Marco Antonio Segura Seco, said yesterday that he had not received any request for a casino in his council.

Vice-president Chinchilla was adamant that the type of business proposed by the Russians is not welcome in Costa Rica. The current casinos are there because of a vacuum in the current laws and the government is making sure that casinos are part of a hotel, that is the main function of the business is a hotel and not a casino, and there will be no excuse once the new regulations are in place.

Chinchilla added that the current casinos now operating in the country will have to remain, otherwise they would have to be compensated if forced shut. The vice-president added that Costa Ricans don’t want to see the country overrun by casinos and the revised regulations will strictly enforce the percentage of hotel flood space dedicated to casino activity and will be strict on how their operate.

She added that the new regulations will be ready next week and that she hopes to have it approved after Easter. The changes will be by way of a government decree, adding that if the changes were to go to the Legislative Assembly, nothing would happen. Asked if the Russians could operate in Costa Rica, Chinchilla responded by saying „If they comply with the regulations“, adding that she did not know at what stage the Russians are at in their plans.

Michael Boettcher is the man behind the Russian move into Costa Rica and as asked to meet with government officials to discuss his plans and offered his assistance to the government to create the new regulations. Chinchilla added that the government has already defined the new regulations regarding casinos.

Chinchilla said that she is well informed so as to know what is good for the country and believes the Russians committed a big mistake in saying that they were coming to Costa Rica because in Russia the activity will now be regulated. The message they sent to the world is that „come to Costa Rica because there is no regulation“, said Chinchilla who is adamant to avoid that.