Putin is Opposed to Opening a Gambling Zone in Sochi

February 10, 2014
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Maishev

Due to the high price of the construction at Sochi, some investors are worried that they will not be able to recoup their costs. In order to avoid default, some have advocated for the construction of casinos and the creation of a “gambling zone.” However, President Putin is against the idea. — Ed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out against the opening of a gambling zone in Sochi. In his opinion, it would deprive middle-income Russians of the opportunity to spend family vacations at the local resorts.

“We agreed that we have a gambling area on the border between Rostov region and Krasnodar Territory, and then even agreed to allow that to cover part of the Black Sea coast. In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to create another such area in the same region, despite the fact that it would make a return on investments,” Putin said at a meeting with representatives of the Public Council for the preparation of the Olympic Winter Games.

Russia currently has one gambling zone – on the border between Krasnodar Territory and Rostov Region, and three more are being built – in Kaliningrad region, Altai and Primorsky regions. In the rest of the country gambling is prohibited, effective from July 1, 2009. Earlier, the government officials said that there were no plans to set up a gambling zone in Sochi.

The President noted that in general, a specific contingent prevails in gambling zones, and it is also necessary to consider the specifics of Russia. “Gambling zones attract crime, but it’s not the only problem. That is a specific crowd. I’m not saying they are bad or good, they are kind of specific… It would almost deprive all families with more middle and upper-middle income of a chance to come here with children for family vacations, or would create such conditions that would make it significantly more difficult for our citizens to stay here with their families. This (family atmosphere) is a completely different atmosphere,” said Putin.

“And secondly, the banks and companies that invested money are eager to break even and start to make profits as soon as possible, so they are willing to keep prices at a certain level, but if there is no gambling zone here, they will be forced to keep those prices under control to attract more visitors. I think this is a factor that will also contribute to the larger Sochi – both its seaside and mountain areas – to become a family recreation center for people with middle, lower- and upper middle income,” he said.

According to the President, since the authorities invested so much money, the resort is not for a small group of citizens who can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a casino, but for ordinary Russians.