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SOCHI, February 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that he was against turning Sochi into a gambling zone.
“We have agreed to set up a gambling zone on the administrative border between the Rostov region and the Krasnodar territory, and we later agreed to expand it to the Black Sea coast,” Putin said.
“I believe it would be inexpedient to create another gambling zone in the same region despite the fact that it would have facilitated the return of facilities to investors,” the president said at a meeting with representatives of the public council that was in charge of preparing the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
Considering Russia’s specific features, gambling zones have a habitude to attract certain categories of people.
“Criminals but not only them usually stream into gambling zones. They are unique people. I do not want to say whether they are good or bad but they are certainly unique,” Putin said. He explained that the presence of those people in Sochi would have prevented families with children from spending their vacation there.
“That would have almost deprived average-income and low-income families of a chance to come here with children for a family vacation. That would make it difficult for families with children to spend their vacation in Sochi,” Putin went on to say.
The president also pointed out that banks and companies who had invested money in Sochi would certainly be interested in getting quick returns on investments.
“But if there is no gambling zone here, investors will have to check prices to increase the number of people who come to Sochi. I believe that this factor will also contribute to turning the big Sochi — both the coastal and mountain parts — into a recreation center for families with low, medium and slightly above medium incomes,” Putin said.
The president emphasized that the state had made huge investments in Sochi’s development for ordinary Russians rather than for handful of rich and selected people who can afford to spend thousands of dollars in a casino.
Russian Vice-Premier Dmitry Kozak said in previous interviews that the Russian government would not raise the question of creating a gambling zone in Sochi in the next two years.
“No such decision has been made and we are not considering it at the moment. I can assure you that we definitely will not return to it in the next two years,” Kozak emphasized.
The vice-premier added that Sochi had all the conditions allowing investors to work calmly and adapt all tourist and sport facilities to mass sport, making them suitable for mass consumers. “There is no need to return to any empirical projects,” Kozak said, adding that Sochi has been conceived as a sport and recreation place rather than a gambling zone.