Sochi Gambling Zone Created to Offset Hosting 2014 Winter Olympics

Posted on: September 21, 2016, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2017, 07:11h.

Sochi gambling zone Russia Winter Olympics
Most think cold and snow when they hear Sochi, but the Russian city is actually home to a subtropical climate. A new Sochi gambling zone is being created to entice foreign travelers to visit. (Image:

A special Sochi gambling zone is being created by the Russian Federation to help the city offset the lingering debts incurred from hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed the executive order in late August, and Sochi will be officially allowed to commence gambling activities in the coming months.

Since 2009, gambling has been outlawed in Russia with four regional exceptions. Those four designated areas consist of the Primorsky Territory in Russia’s Far East, the Kaliningrad Oblast, Altai Krai, and Azov-City.

Sochi will become the fifth precinct to welcome casino-style gambling. The 165,000-square-mile gaming region will be formally known as the Krasnaya Polyana zone.

“The active development of the gambling zone in Sochi will begin by the end of 2016 amid the expected improvement in the economic situation in the country as a whole,” Timur Nigmatullin, a financial analyst, told Russia Beyond the Headlines.

Olympic Hurdle

Russia’s state-owned Vnesheconombank helped financed the Sochi Games in February of 2014. According to reports, the bank issued upwards of $4 billion in loans to Sochi to build appropriate facilities and infrastructure.

Now over two years later, Vnesheconombank is still receiving payments, and interest.

The total cost Sochi incurred from hosting the 2014 Olympics is estimated to be over $50 billion, more than four times the $12 billion Russia originally budgeted. Sochi remains the most expensive Olympics in history.

Bringing gambling to the city is an effort to attract international visitors back to the area. Its ambitions are tall as Sochi is hoping Chinese and other Asian travelers will descend on the skiing and soon-to-be gambling locale.

Sochi doesn’t currently have any passport or visa restrictions on either Vietnamese or Chinese citizens. And even better, Chinese tour groups, the ones that have made Macau hundreds of billions of dollars, are also being welcomed to Russia with open arms.

But it’s worth noting that Sochi is nowhere near China’s big cities. Sochi sits on the coast of the Black Sea, thousands of miles away from Hong Kong and Beijing.

Cold Truth

While the slopes are wonderful in the eyes of winter sports enthusiasts, for others the thought of venturing to a snowy Russian resort city might not be the prime vacation destination.

But the reality is that Sochi isn’t in fact all that cold. Aside from the city’s neighboring mountains, Sochi’s lower elevation downtown has a humid subtropical climate.

The average high in January and February is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and by April those daily highs are into the 60s.

Climate data also reveals that Sochi only averages 20 snowy days a year, though there is plenty of precipitation with 189 rainy days.

But compared to Atlantic City, America’s second gambling home, Sochi is warmer than the New Jersey coast in the winter. Atlantic City averages a high of just over 40 degrees in January and February.

Russia implemented a law in 2014 to bring the Olympics to Sochi. The legislation called for the allowance of Olympic venues to later be adopted into casinos if private investors funded the renovations.

If Sochi can attract high rollers from Asian countries, the city’s best economic days could be ahead.