Several months have passed since the opening of the first international casino Shangri La in Kyiv. Founder Michael Boettcher and Darren Keane, Shangri La CEO, opened a capital unit at the Fairmont Hotel.During this time, the situation on the Ukrainian gambling market has not changed much: legal market operators continue to talk about the work of underground casinos, and also ask the authorities to revise the tax legislation for gambling companies.

Despite these problems, the only international player on the Ukrainian gambling market – Storm International – has implemented another major project and launched its Shangri La casino in Kharkiv.

The official opening of Shangri La Kharkiv at the five-star Kharkiv Palace hotel took place on December 5. A few days earlier, the founder of Storm International, Michael Boettcher, held a press conference and told how the legalization of gambling in Ukraine for his casino is proceeding.

“We are the first legal casino in Kharkiv, and we hope that our business will flourish here. We plan that illegal casinos will be closed not only because it is required by law, but simply because people who now go to illegal casinos will start visiting us,” says Michael Boettcher, the Shangri La owner.

The staff of this casino will be about 300 people who have gone through several stages of training. The second Shangri La casino in Ukraine is located in the very center of the city and near the largest square in Europe – Freedom Square.

“Walking around this casino, you can understand how pleased we are with the result. But the idea of this press conference is not only to inform you about our discovery and convey information to our clients. We also want to tell you what is happening on the Ukrainian gambling market, because there are good and bad things here,” continues Boettcher.

Among the “good”, the owner of Storm International singles out the very idea of legalizing the gambling business and the fact that gambling establishments in Ukraine can be opened exclusively on the basis of hotels. For example, in Kyiv casinos may appear only on the basis of five-star hotels, while for other cities four or even three “stars” will be enough.

However, the same decision played a cruel joke for the operators, as the commercial real estate market went up sharply. According to Michael Boettcher, the management of all hotels began to charge the highest rental rates for their premises.

And this, according to Boettcher, is not the “worst” thing in the new Ukrainian gambling market: “Illegal casinos are still operating here, and I don’t understand this. In 1968, the gambling business was legalized in England, after that the owners of underground casinos began to be imprisoned, destroying all their equipment. I have a question: why is it not happening in Ukraine? I can answer it, but I don’t like this answer.”

The head of the Storm International gambling company, which operates casinos and slot halls in Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, and the Baltic countries, says that the further development of the gambling market in Ukraine will depend on what the Ukrainian authorities want to get from it. Darren Keane, Shangri La CEO, is of the same opinion.

The first option is to develop a positive image of legal gambling to attract tourists to the country and strengthen the economy. The second option is to continue the development of the shadow economy. “I just want to know which option Ukraine is choosing. Before that, I worked in Russia for 20 years, and I know both of these economies. Just tell me which one you choose. Or, take some measures to ensure that it is a legal and well-organized business,” insists Boettcher.

The founder of Shangri La also said that partners in the gambling business from other countries are asking him whether it is worth coming to Ukraine. Considering that a year after legalization, all Storm International establishments, at best, go to zero, while Ukraine for Boettcher is a country in which you can invest $ 10, $ 15, $ 20, or even $ 50 million, and just hope that these investments will ever return.