Last week the Russian parliament voted to designate Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, as one of Russia’s few legalized gambling zones.
The Russian government closed most casinos in 2009, believing it would help solve the problem of rampant gambling among Russian citizens. Gambling has been severely restricted since, allowed only in four designated zones on the country’s outskirts.
Adding Sochi to the list will, the government hopes, give the Olympic facilities a second life and help bring returns on the deep investments made in the Black Sea region.
14 facilities with a combined capacity of 145,000 people were built for the Sochi Games. Russia spent a reported $51 billion on the Games, including spending on infrastructure.
The Sochi organizing committee announced in June that it has posted a $261 million profit from the Games, beating the previous record profit from $232 from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. That figure only concerns the operations budget, not construction or infrastructure costs.
The AP reports that Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told Russian new agencies, “We should do everything to make these projects bring returns on the investment, so that they don’t go bankrupt.”
The exact locations in Sochi of the casinos haven’t been decided.