Gagik Tsarukyan to open world-class casino in Armenia

One of the richest Armenian businessman Gagik Tsarukyan’s Multi Group Company, in partnership with Russian Storm International has constructed the most impressive gaming facility in the region – the Shangri La Casino, which will officially open on April 16th, with the Grand Opening scheduled for May 2nd.

Via: RIA OREANDA | The complex area now is 2400 sq. m with a planned expansion of a further 800 sq.m by the end of the year. The gaming configuration for the main floor is for an initial12 tables (with the possibility to introduce more tables if required) plus a poker room for the increasingly popular game of Texas Hold `em and a multi-level slot area with 85 state-of-the-art machines. There are 3 bars, a restaurant and a fully equipped stage for show programmes and music concerts. It has a parking capacity for 100 cars.
The Grand Opening promises to be one of the most memorable events of the year. World-famous Toto Cutugno will be the headline act, along with other performers including “Blestyaschie” for the benefit of the invited guests.

There are also some unverified reports, that the Storm International have opened a special school in Armenia to prepare qualified staff for the casino business. This is a clear indication of plans to further expand the gaming industry and turn Armenia into a Caucasian Monte Carlo.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. it has began :))) price hikes and opening of new Casinos just the way our new President likes it, no? 🙂

  2. now Serj doesnt need to fly all the way to Baden-baden or Monte Carlo.
    He can control the country right from the casino.

  3. Dear Observer, I know that you are no Serj supporter but you opposed change and LTP movement. What do you say now? Merely making fun of those stupids (dods) is not enough. Accept that you were wrong in your hopes that those bustards ara capable of doing any good to Armenia.

  4. Avik – By bustards do you mean the authorities or do you mean LTP movement?

  5. Well just a great example of wrong investments. On the bright side, though, this will still create jobs.
    You know I like to blame these guys, but they really want to have some fun. The question that really bothers me is how many of us wouldn’t do such things had we been the president or the richest businessman? In other words, what is the moral code in use in Armenia today that makes such activities ethically wrong? If the majority only envies these guys then we cannot expect anything else from them, can we?
    Really, how many Armenians wouldn’t try to take advantage of the fact that some rather distant family member has a high profile government job? If most will try to use family connections to gain undeserved advantages, then the fault that we end up with Serj today lies in us, no?

  6. wow! that news is pretty amazing!!!! The people nearby there are pretty sure very lucky!!!!
    you might want to look on this site
    there are a lot of casino reviews here and gambling websites

  7. I’ve heard, that the Storm International have also opened a special school in Armenia to prepare qualified staff for the casino business. So it seems there are definate plans further expand this ‘world-class’ casino stuff and turn the country into a reginal gaming zone.

  8. Avik – I’m commenting from my mobile phone – writing is hard, so I’ll answer your question tomorrow with a long post…

  9. Why do you see this as a bad thing, I don’t get.This 43 mln investment can promote tourism on a greater scale,unknown to us before. The casinos we have are not up to the standards. This is different. As it is going to have a separate Texa Hold’em floor , it has a potential of attracting some of the millions of players worldwide who travel on a weekly basis for international tournaments. They bring the hard currency we need so much. What’s the problem in that? It’s definetely going to be foreigner oriented and can’t do any more damage to locals, who have their little cheating casinos and betting shops in place already.

  10. yah sure and all money will go to peopel sure!

    «Կանայք հանուն խաղաղության» հասարակական կազմակերպությունը ս.թ. ապրիլի 19-ին, շաբաթ օրը, ժամը 15-ին հրավիրում է հանրահավաք Երեւանի Մանկական զբոսայգում (Մյասնիկյանի արձանի հարեւանությամբ):
    Երկար ընդմիջումից եւ հանրահավաքների բազմաթիվ հայտեր մերժելուց հետո սա քաղաքապետարանի կողմից արտոնված առաջին հանրահավաքն է, որտեղ կնքնարկվեն մեր երկրին ու ժողովրդին վերաբերող կարեւոր հարցեր: Կոչ ենք անում ակտիվորեն մասնակցել այդ հանրահավաքին:

  12. Chav,
    I don’t see it as a completely bad thing exactly for those reasons. However, I don’t see this as an agenda defining investment or at least it is not clear what their long term goal of this is (at least to me). If as Observer observed, they want to turn the country into Caucasian Las Vegas, then it isn’t how I think of Armenia. If they want to make quick cash for other popular investments then they should at least make their goals clear.

  13. At least this clears one thing up. Apparently, all those trips to Monte Carlo weren’t for fun, they were “fact-finding missions.” Seriously, there is room for development in this respect, because the Muslim Gulf States aren’t allowed to have casinos, and Armenia’s a fairly convenient flight from there. But as to what your image is of Armenia (land of churches and monasteries and learning I guess), that’s not really something that Serzh and Dodi are concerned with, sadly, because culture (as opposed to trashy pop music) doesn’t interest them.

  14. Meant to add that the wealthy Arabs going to the casinos are probably not going to make that side trip to Echmiadzin, so don’t count on that tourist bump or spreading the money around outside the casino.

  15. land of churches and monasteries? If you are referring to me, then no these are not how I would like to see Armenia. I think they should try to invest into such areas that could help them to capture those jobs that western countries tend to send to east. This is a job creating endeavor, but ultimately it doesn’t enrich our only natural resource, the people.
    The problem with our government for the past 16 years has been that they have always avoided publicizing their long term goals. We always learn about such things on a spot and that is not particularly pleasant. Why couldn’t Serj talk about this Casino thing during his campaign and explain why he and Gago think that this is a good idea?

  16. Grigor, At least I got “learning” right for your vision! Anyway, the problem with the casinos is that they don’t spread money around very much. Construction will go to the same people as now, there will be a few service jobs (unless they decide that there aren’t “qualified” people so then they’ll import them from Russia), but of course you know where the Big Money will go, and somehow no taxes will be paid, as always. And like I said, basically most customers will fly into the airport, go to the casino, then fly home, and the rest of Armenia will never see them. So maybe that’s why they didn’t talk about it beforehand–it’s only a good idea for them and their friends, what’s new?

  17. Why do you see only negative aspects in it?
    Is Armenia industrial country? Do we have resources and super huge industries? Is armenia agricultural country?
    The only thing we can boost right now is the tourism. The new casino will create alot of work places and it will be good for tourism.
    Think positive, stop the victim and paranoid mentality.

  18. I really hope that what you said is not the reality. You know after living in a more civilized country for a long time one forgets that those possibilities really exist. What can one do to make changes without spreading hatred all over? Perhaps, LTP had no option but to resort to those disgusting tactics.
    I don’t know what you meant by learning but it sounds good, so I thought to exclude it.

  19. Observer,
    you might find this interesting.
    Go Schwarzenegger, GO California.

  20. Ani, maybe it’s good if the customers go straight to the airport without seeing the rest of the country.
    I have absolutely no problem with another casino being built. It will provide jobs – the staff, the maintenance crews, the prostitutes. It will be another economic activity in the country that would turn money around in the economy.

  21. It’s very simple. If you want proper investment then fighting corruption or building a democracy is not going to help much when the problems that hold Armenia back still remain. That is, closed borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Without settlement of these two issues there will be no industrial or agricultural base to export of note, and Armenia will continue to be isolated from regional economic and communications projects.
    Anyway, let’s face it, casinos and corruption have not held back the United States or anywhere else for that matter. Nor has corruption either as long as it does not prevent investors from making the profit they seek, What makes matters worse fro Armenia is that there is nothing else and businessmen want a larger market to export to. Closed borders prevent that.
    As for churches, that a short-term limited market. Most tourists want sun, beaches, resorts, activities. The historical aspect of Armenia is just a plus for people to take the occasional side-trip. Besides, even when Diaspora visit the odd church within reach (and usually, the same old names), no real money is spent in the immediate surrounds either.
    But the issue of the need for community-driven sustainable responsible tourism might be taking this discussion a little off-topic. For now, just to say that we need open borders as much as any anti-corruption drive. Probably, we need both together and the problem is that neither is happening.

  22. I am not sure if I would like to sacrifice Karabach for open borders. There has to be a careful study of how much open borders will indeed help. There has been a lot of abstract talk on open borders, but has there been anything based on economical study? We need some numbers before we sacrifice Karabach.
    True, casinos and corruption haven’t held USA back, but people in US have at least some idea what is going to happen to the country. I don’t see where they are going with the casino. Not that I think it will be bad for us, but that it is just not clear what comes next, more casinos or what?
    It is interesting that people believe that tourism could yield a lot of profit. I always thought we couldn’t attract a lot of non-Armenians. Those Americans I know wouldn’t go to Armenia, because it would be cheaper for them to go to Italy or Greece or etc. Plus there is the sea in Italy, Greece and etc. Since when casinos are touristic attraction? Do you guys like to frequent casinos when you are out for a vacation? It could be that people will make one day trips to waste some money there, but I don’t see why such casinos would excite anyone to visit Armenia.

  23. Any independent study of the casino industry will tell you that such enterprises spawn a number of negative social and cultural manifestations – crime, prostitution, graft, etc that far outweigh the jobs created at minimal salaries.
    This is the face of the new coalition government and their plans for Armenia’s future???

  24. True, casinos and corruption haven’t held USA back, but people in US have at least some idea what is going to happen to the country. I don’t see where they are going with the casino. Not that I think it will be bad for us, but that it is just not clear what comes next, more casinos or what?

    Like I said, what is needed are open borders.
    I also didn’t say that casinos are vital for tourism. Indeed, that is not a sign of development to be applauded. I said that churches aren’t going to attract tourists in large enough numbers. They are merely a bonus. Instead, we need cheap prices, infrastructure in the regions, and so on.
    Again, open borders, especially with Turkey which has a huge tourism industry — including backpackers — would be beneficial and perhaps even necessary for that as well. Given people’s dissatisfaction with the situation, it’s about time they recognized the inevitable.
    Without integration into the region, Armenia is not going to develop much and the oligarchal system of controlling imports and exports is as much a symptom of the blockade as everything else.

  25. I don’t think that the ole “open-the borders” argument is that convincing. How are open borders (with undemocratic, corrupt, and inimical countries such as Turkey or Azerbaijan) going to reduce corruption? Fair import/export laws are what need to be fought for, and this takes work.
    There are many consequences of open borders, some of which have been properly analyzed, and much of the analysis is pseudo-analysis (start with the end argument and then find and filter data to support the hypothesis).
    Demographics, national security, internal industry protection, safety are just a few of the issues that are very complex and should be under the spotlight in any analysis of the “why can’t we forget the past and all get along” argumentation.

  26. Խաղալու ենք!!!!

  27. HaikN – your offtop comment-announcement triggered a rather scandalous response:
    So you see, that’s what you get for making offtop comments.

  28. anonymous,the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border wont have any significant impact on Armenian economy specially in short term,it will just help Turkish importers invade the Armenian market. The problem is that Armenia doesnt have anything to export, I work for an engineering firm and I usually divide my time between different Persian gulf oil-rich countries,these countries are actually the best markets in middle-east but rarely one can find Armenian goods in those supermarkets,why?Is it again because of Turkish-Armenian border?Armenia has normal relations with Iran and it can export its products to those countries via Iran but in those competitive markets it will be impossible for them to compete with major international brands.
    As for tourism,yes Turkey has a huge tourism industry but it is main resorts and tourist attractions are on its mediterranean coasts and backpackers are just a very small group of tourists who usually spend less than average tourists.
    I want to see the border open but I am against LTPs theories,LTP can not sacrifice Karabagh simply because Karabagh is NOT his property.

  29. I share some of the concerns expressed here though I am for a more constructive approach to the issue.
    I don’t think it will be a good idea to turn the whole country into a casino and entertainment place (potential negative economic impact, crime and social issues, country’s image, etc.). Casinos can and should be confined to a particular region/city and all those that are now on the borders of Yerevan and elsewhere should move to that area. That area, say Sevan or Dilijan, can be positioned as a regional gambling and entertainment center. Such a concentration will justify the appropriate investments in the infrastructure and will allow the industry to be competitive.
    You already have Bahrain that has developed some gambling potential in the Gulf region. Georgia has big plans for Poti and Russia for Sochi. The emerging gambling industry at Sochi will surely benefit from the 2014 Olympics effect in terms of publicity and huge investments in the infrastructure. So such a project in Armenia is not going to be as easily won as some of us think. Neither Arabs nor Russians are waiting to see when Dodi Gago will let them fly into Armenia to spend their money and then fly out.
    A more geographically-concentrated industry will also allow a more effective control of the gambling and related businesses by an independent and specialised regulatory body that can be accountable to the Parliament.
    The Parliament can – like in many other countries – require that a certain percentage of the revenues be directly channeled to specific uses, say educational institutions, scientific research, sports and youth facilities, etc.

  30. Also
    The “open borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan” issue pops out each time there a discussion on an economic topic.
    First, I don’t understand why this is always presented in an either-or format: Open the borders instead of promoting tourism, open the borders instead of talking about casinos, etc. Are these really mutually exclusive?
    Second, I would like to know if there is any analysis concerning the potential economic impact of opening the borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan. If there is one, please give me the reference. (Didn’t someone say it will cause an additional GDP growth rate of 1%?)
    The open borders is presented as a magic potion for all our economic ills but when I look to Georgia which has always had open trade and investment with both Turkey and Azerbaijan, I don’t see a superior economic performance. Is it that I am missing something?

  31. I think Krkoryan also could invest money here,since casinos also is a big part of his wealth.

  32. One thing is obvious. Tigran Sarkissian is keeping his word, building regional financial center:))))) Seems thats a first step.
    One thing worries me most. When country is orienting its strategy to be service provider (tourism, gambling, etc) – it’s a dead end. It means signing under statement that we dont have any intellectual power to create. We dont need to create, transfers from abroad are keeping some families going. Others are working for some international organizations. IT is mainly about outsourcing. I dont expect any huge growth in tourism sector, until airflight prices would be more or less acceptable, and hotel prices will go down. Seems that we already lost russian market, because of extraordinary price for package. Sorry for this sad post, but i cant see any positive in opening a big casino. It is not factory or technopark.

  33. ditord i don’t see what scandal is there??? you guys ar still where??? why the hell is matters where the meeting is ?/ why you guys have problems with gays meeting there?/

  34. OK. First of all this casino has been built in last 2 years and it’s not something Serzh and Tigran Sargsyan did ‘just now’. And then, noone is saying that 1 casino is going to turn the economy around, let’s be realistic. Another comment I find funny is the one on ‘if the casino can attract customers’. Let the owners worry about it,please, i’M SURE THEY know what they’re doing. Shangri La is a well known international brand for hotels and casinos and a lot of foreigners who would never put step into an average Armenian casino will go there because of this. It’s an investment, it’s creating jobs,full stop. If anyone is worried about negative effects of gambling, he should campaign for the closure of small local casinos, which do attract Armenian youth. But you guys don’t know what you’re talking about. Prostitution and gambling are so widespread in the country, it can probably not get any worse. We export girls to Turkey and UAE for God’s sake and you’re complaining about a respectable business opening its doors in Armenia.
    Oh, yeah, and the guy who thinks people dont go to casinos on holidays, well I do and many others.

  35. on holidays it is fine, but do you specifically choose a destination for your vacation because there are casinos there? There is no reason to get angry, I am just asking.
    Again I am not worried about negative effects of the casinos the way they were presented in the above comments. I am worried about the direction the country is moving. There was an idea mentioned somewhere above that this will lead to a dead end and I agree. There will be new jobs and etc but if we don’t complement this investment by investing in other sectors then hey that is a dead end right there! I think they should make it clear how they see the countries future.
    Please, don’t move casinos to Dilijan.

  36. Hi Observer
    Sorry for the unrelated comment announcment. I just wanted to let people know about this meeting and because it is short notice I put it here.
    Comming to Pigh’s comment – well , I am not surprised, he prooved again that he is a fascist. No other comments on that topic.

  37. Casinos, the lottery, and all other games of chance are the Devil’s work. You’ll see the suckers lined up, ready, to spend their hard earned drams to line the pockets of Dodi Gago and his band of thieves. Just what this country needs more useless entertainment ventures that have nothing a t all to do with developing the tourist industry’s infrastructure. And casinos WILL add to the crime and prostitution and other social ills because the demand will grow and more hapless Armenians will be sucked into the vortex. The place should be bombed!!!!

  38. Your may enjoy the development of high-tech industries that are required in modern casinos.

  39. Like what – surveillance cameras and money counting machines…..Just what this society needs more of, right?

  40. Sounds tiny by American standards!

  41. Dod exel es Dod el kmnas!!!

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