Ukrainian Businessman Has Huge Plans for Croatia

Zagreb like Monte Carlo, and Croatia like Monaco. That doesn't sound so bad, does it? Meet Andrija Matiukha, a 46-year-old Ukrainian businessman who has not only ideas and visions, but the means and a company, and he is in love with Croatia.

As Novac/Petra Plivelic writes on the 3rd of March, the Ukrainian businessman says that he likes Croatia as a country and he likes people.

''First of all, it doesn't differ that much from Ukraine. We share a similar mentality, language, Slavic people who understand each other. It's therefore easier for me to adapt to Croatia than it is in Romania or in countries like Germany or England because they have a different mentality. Croatia is beautiful and it's impossible not to fall in love with it when you visit it,'' said Matiukhi, who lived in Kiev a year ago, but now lives with his family in Zagreb.

When he started a business in Croatia, he came several times a month for a couple of days to control the situation, but soon realised that such an approach didn't really work and if he wanted to develop the business he had planned, he had to move to Croatia. Matiukho is the owner of a group of companies called FavBet, whose primary interest is, as the name suggests, sports betting.

"We have a desire and intent to engage in a lot of projects here,'' says the Ukrainian businessman, otherwise the owner of the Diamond Palace Casino in Zagreb and the Magic Night Club, which also includes the Casino Crystal Palace restaurant in Rijeka.

''We currently have about fifty bookmakers in Croatia, and this year's goal is to open another 50 more. But in this business, betting has moved online, so we're not focusing too much on investments in this area, but as soon as we get a good location, we'll definitely open a betting shop,'' he explained.

When it comes to casinos, both Zagreb locals and tourists are targeted because there is a special clientele, while in other cities they target local people since tourists are coming for family holidays rather than to gamble in casinos. Zagreb, however, is an exception, he says.

Online betting has survived in Croatia, but FavBet, says Matiukha, currently has no license for this type of business and is now in the process of adapting its product to the requirements of the local market.

''Everything has to be certified, so it's a bit more of a demanding process, but we're not going to give up. Next year, we'll certainly have an online betting and online casino license,'' he added. Until then, his plans aren't lacking.

''We're planning to open a hotel near the casino in Zagreb. It will be a boutique hotel with forty rooms. It's a building next to the Diamond Palace Casino. We're now in the process of buying space from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and in a year and a half, the hotel should be open. We're already all thinking about designs and interiors,'' explained the goal-driven Ukrainian businessman who is currently involved in a business venture in Split.

"We bought a building in the centre of Split and we'll open another large casino of more than 1,000 square metres in June. This will be our third major casino in Croatia, with the one in Zagreb, Rijeka, and Split, and we will soon open a number of modern slot machines in Osijek, Zelina, Zadar and Makarska,'' announced Matiukhi, who has a couple more things up his sleeve. He also intends to invest in tourist projects down in Dalmatia.

''My job is related to gambling and I have a license for casinos, betting shops and slot machines, all of which we're developing in Croatia, as well as our online business. But all this is related to fun, which is part of our wider interest. We're planning to open a fun park like Disneyland, actually... like Gardaland. I can see great prospects for such a job in Croatia. We're not planning on many of those parks, maybe one in Istria, one in Dalmatia and one near Zagreb. And besides, that goes hand in hand with the hotel business because it's closely related to entertainment. It's our goal to develop everything that is related to fun, because gambling is fun. In Asia, that's part of the culture, let's say. Those who don't gamble are considered strange. It's just normal for people to gamble,'' Matiukha claims. Croats, however, are still far from making such habits the norm.

''You are Europeans and that's not really your style. I've even noticed differences in the habits of people from different parts of Croatia. Dalmatian people and people from the south general are more into gambling than people living in the northern parts of Croatia,'' says the Ukrainian businessman.

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Click here for the original article by Petra Plivelic for Novac/Jutarnji