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UKRAINE NEEDS ITS LAS VEGAS

“If you want money to flow into Ukraine, you have to make changes to the law.”

On September 18, the country’s first international casino, Shangri-­La, which is part of the international gambling company Storm International, was officially opened. We spoke to Michael Boettcher, the founder of Storm International, which owns the Shangri La casino network and is the only foreign investor in the gambling business in Ukraine. In an exclusive interview with GI, Boettcher spoke about his professional path, shared his thoughts on the current Ukrainian legislation on gambling, the main nuances and obstacles to further development of the industry, is it worth to invest in Ukraine, how business has changed over the past 30 years and whether the creation of Ukrainian Las Vegas is realistic.

Michael, given that this is the first interview for our magazine, please tell us about your beginnings and how did you get to the position where are you now?

MB: I’ve started as a dealer in 1972, so for almost 50 years. 20 years I’ve worked in different casinos, first in England, then I went to Iran, then to the Bahamas, in USA I worked in Atlantic City and New Jersey, briefly in Spain and also on cruise ships. Then I moved back to England where I was hired as a project manager to open a casino in Egypt back in 1989. After Egypt, I opened 2 casinos in Turkey, in Poland and many other different places. At some point in 1991, I was asked to come to Ukraine, to look at the possibility of opening casinos, because the Soviet Union collapsed and we had an opportunity in what became known as ‘The Wild East‘ market. It was almost totally corrupt, with no infrastructure and practically impossible, so, at best, it was far to early to consider Ukraine as a possible area for investment. At that time I worked for the American company called Atlantic Associates, and we were just about to leave Ukraine when we received a call from one of the co-owners of the company who was in Miami and said he received another call from somebody in Moscow. …..

You can read the full version after the publication of the printed version of the magazine.