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Three months after its opening, Tigre de Cristal - the first of many casinos in the Primorsky Integrated Entertainment Zone (PIEZ) - is winning plaudits for attracting both Russian and foreign gamblers, notably those from neighbouring China.

Some 80% of its early revenue comes from China, Japan, and South Korea, while around 80% of its gamblers are Russians, according to a positive review from World Casino News headlined 'Chinese gamblers flock to Siberia's Tigre de Cristal Casino'.

Editor Lars Jones wrote: 'As many as eight casinos are planned for the PIEZ, which when completed is expected to rival or surpass Las Vegas and even possibly Macao - the world's two current gambling rulers.

'Already work has begun on at least three other properties in the zone - one of several set up by the government when it outlawed casinos in 2009.' The pioneering Tigre de Cristal Casino is the result of investment by Lawrence Ho, so of Macao mogul Stanley Ho, as previously 'The success of the gambling zones, beginning with Primorye and eventually including Sochi and others, will depend a lot on the government providing the right environment, infrastructure and support.' Pictures: Alexander Khitrov, 'The Russian Far East is a sparsely populated region with only about 6 million people living in an area larger than the entire European Union,' stated the report.

'It is the Siberia of lore, but it is located within a two or three hour flight of hundreds of millions of potential Asian customers, as well as Russian denizens who are starved for legal gambling.

'It is the rising economy of Asia the pilot casino is really counting on for success.

In their own country, Chinese are only allowed to gamble in the special administrative district of Macao - a greater distance from most Chinese population centres where the middle class is still on the rise.' But respected World Casino News highlighted challenges for the Russian government if the gambling zone is to fulfil the dizzy predictions of success.

The first casino is 'a canary in the coal mine, guinea pig, or roaring tiger depending on your perspective.

If this venture does not succeed, billions of dollars of investments in the area could be stymied or even halted'.

The report warned: 'The success of the gambling zones, beginning with Primorye and eventually including Sochi and others, will depend a lot on the government providing the right environment, infrastructure and support.' The Economist newspaper, meanwhile, described the new Russian casino as 'like a black glass and steel spacecraft that has landed in the Siberian forest'.

It echoed the warning about the need for support from officials, as highlighted by glitches in the launch of Tigre de Cristal.

'The launch was postponed because of bureaucratic hassles.