UGW Insider Podcast: the Prospects for Gambling Tourism in Ukraine. Opinion of a VIP Junket Expert Dmitriy Kamenskiy
Meet the latest episode of UGW Insider Podcast with Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 Brand Ambassador Lavrentiy Gubin. Guest of the new episode is a VIP junket expert Dmitriy Kamenskiy. He spoke about the conditions necessary for the development of junket tourism in Ukraine.
Is the Ukrainian gambling market attractive for VIP players? What countries can potential junket tourists come from? How to make Ukraine a popular destination for gambling tourism? Find the answers to these and other questions in the interview below.
The interviewer: Lavrentiy Gubin (L.G.)
The respondent: Dmitriy Kamenskiy (D.K.)
L.G.: Please tell us what prospects do you see from the junket point of view in Ukraine? How attractive is this market for the players you work with?
D.K.: Much will depend on how the gambling business will be organized in Ukraine and in what specific areas new casinos will want to work. For example, there is absolutely no domestic market in Georgia. At one time, there was a very strong domestic market in Ukraine, so then the need for junkets was not so critical.
In some countries, this is a necessity, because casinos simply cannot survive. People will always strive to travel to new places if they are well organized and there is an appropriate infrastructure. The only issue is an absolute need for direct flights lasting no more than five hours.
L.G.: Will Ukraine attract players coming from Turkey, Arab countries, Azerbaijan? In general, these are the same markets that are now served by Georgia ...
D.K.: I think that, of course, Ukraine will be attractive for them, but again, you need to look at what conditions will be created. Turkey, Arab countries, Kuwait, Qatar, Emirates ...
People from these countries are used to going abroad. They prefer to go and play, relax, spend time away from home and return. We need to look at what regulations will be made for people from these countries and markets. For example, free entry/exit, that is visa-free options. And also the free movement of money. For example, in the European Union they just put massive pressure on this. I am now in Riga and it is a problem to bring in/out the money.
It's completely different in Georgia. Having declared money at the entrance saying that “I am going to this or that casino,” player simply receives a paper and freely brings the funds in. If you are lucky with a good win, then the casino provides a paper that allows you just take out the money freely without paying any taxes. Control exists, but no one is not afraid for their money –it won’t be taken away at the entrance or exit.
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L.G.: Ukrainian authorities and business professionals are counting on junket as one of the sources of income. What nuances should be taken into account when developing gambling tourism?
D.K.: Our realities are Turkey, the Middle East, after all, they do not only take seats at the tables in the casino. Hotel activity is increasing. Food & beverage turnover is increasing: in a hotel, a hotel restaurant, room service. After that, they naturally bring money directly to the casino. In other words, this is a rather large picture that will not develop in one or two days or even a year.
It is clear that the result must be expected at least after one year. We waited for about a year.
I’ll say more, if someone thinks that they could open a casino and call some junket leader or a representative of some players from the East and they will bring in people – this also does not work very well. Because people go for the place, not for a person. They want to understand who they are going to. Do you remember this expression – “The East is a delicate matter”?
I was lucky to be in Kuwait, Beirut, Dubai. I saw these people, communicated with them, stayed at them, saw what kind of people they were and what attitude should be towards them. As a rule, these are the people respected in their society who can afford to spend money on this kind of entertainment.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to travel, encourage, invite, communicate locally, build the so-called bridges of trust.
Thus, when people look at me, they could see me as an organization that will provide them with comfort. Not everyone can do this. Not all casinos were able, even in Georgia itself, in Tbilisi, to create this comfort as an organization.
L.G.: Do you think Kyiv would be the only junket direction or will it still be possible to attract players to other cities of Ukraine?
D.K.: Going back to the beginning of our conversation, I believe that 90% of this will depend on the availability of flights. If there is, relatively speaking, a direct flight from Dubai to Odesa, yes, people will go.
If there is a flight ‘Dubai-Kyiv-Odesa’ – from my point of view, the chances are practically zero.
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