TALLINN - The Olympic Entertainment Group stands to incur major losses if Kiev city authorities proceed with a plan to move all casinos outside of the city, according to reports.
The plan to banish casinos, as well as slot machine halls, from downtown Kiev to as far as 30 kilometers away was submitted to the Kiev mayor's office by President Viktor Yushchenko last week, a local news portal reported.
Olympic Entertainment Group, the largest gaming group in the Baltics, has invested millions of euros in the Ukrainian market, particularly in Kiev. In late November it opened a 1 million euro slot hall in the Ukrainian capital, its 14th gambling hall in the country of 48 million.
Kiev's mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky, said the president and the city government had a common stance over the need to rid the downtown area of slot machines.
"Illegal casinos attract drug users, cause gambling addiction among children and alcoholism," he was quoted as saying.
Chernovetsky added that such a step cannot be taken in one day, and a sudden move would be unfair toward the owners of these institutions. A separate area should be designated for casinos in the future, he said.
Olympic casino officials said the plan would not likely impact the company in the short-term.
"A blanket ban on casinos is unlikely, and what this could be about is another step to tighten quality requirements. In that case nothing would probably change in the casinos of Olympic, as we are one of the pathbreakers of quality casino entertainment in Ukraine," Andri Avila, board member of Olympic Entertainment Group, said.
Ukrainian operations accounted for 6.4 percent of Olympic's revenues in the first nine months of 2007. In two years Olympic has raised its nine-month revenues in the capital Kiev from 14 million to some 100 million kroons (6.4 million euros).