MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) – A spokeswoman for Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday that there has been no proposal to turn Sochi, the venue for the Winter Olympics next year, into a gambling zone.
“The prime minister did not put forward the idea of creating a gambling zone in Sochi. The idea was suggested by a member of the banking community,” spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.
Kommersant newspaper had reported earlier in the day that Medvedev made the suggestion at a meeting earlier this week as the government seeks ways to offset losses expected to be made by businesses that have invested in the development of Sochi ahead of the Olympics.
With a price tag of over $50 billion, the Sochi Games are the most expensive Olympics of all time.
Businessmen and state-run enterprises have reportedly sought government assistance to pay back loans taken out to pay for loss-making projects in Sochi.
The Kremlin banned gambling in Russia in 2009, except for four designated zones across the country. These zones sites in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the country’s Far East, the southern Krasnodar territory and Siberia’s Altai region.
Updated with new headline and with Timakova’s comments