Republic of Kyrgyzstan, located in the picturesque region of Eurasia between Tian Shan Mountains and Pamir, is a country with ancient history and rich mineral resources. Due to exotic culture, diversity of traditions, local colour and sightseeing attractions of ancient towns, Kyrgyzstan is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Asia. This mountainous country is land-locked, but you will be able to have a beach vacation at the Issyk Kul Lake and near hot springs. Leave alone mountain skiing – around 70% of Kyrgyz territory is covered with mountains.
But entertainment and recreation industry of Kyrgyzstan cannot offer gambling institutions. Currently, there is no such notion as legal gambling business in the country, and it’s connected with a number of historically formed circumstances. Republic has recently started the activities on industry revival, and this process can take a lot of time. Inspired by the experience of neighbouring countries such as Kazakhstan, Russia, China, authorities of Kyrgyzstan are determined to legalize and recover gambling sector activities in the country, in order to provide a possibility for business to develop within the limits of legislation.
History of gambling business in Kyrgyzstan
After collapse of the USSR, gambling business began to develop rapidly in Kyrgyzstan, as well as in many other post-Soviet countries. Dozens and hundreds of casinos, gambling halls and betting houses were opened throughout the country, especially in large resort towns. When authorities were not able to take control over this sector, the majority of gambling institutions operated under the aegis of criminal elements. Later such spontaneous gambling activities caused the rise of gambling addiction levels. Pernicious influence of gambling houses affected children and other vulnerable segments of the population. Authorities had to take drastic action and in 2012 gambling was totally banned on the territory of Kyrgyzstan.
A new era of gambling began in Kyrgyzstan – clandestine. Authorities had to take persistent efforts to reveal illegal gambling; lots of institutions were closed during that time. Simultaneously gambling operators began working online, where it was quite simple to evade the law.
Faced with this situation, which was getting even worse, a group of businessmen made a petition to authorities, asking them about creation of special gambling zones in order to turn shady financial flows from gambling into official income of the country.
Current situation of gambling business in Kyrgyzstan
Today the government of Kyrgyzstan is actively discussing possibilities of restoring gambling industry in the country, and prospects of its development using the example of other CIS countries.
In order to legalize gambling officials have developed a new legislative draft, offering to create a special gambling zone – an integrated resort with a gambling complex that will house hotels, retails, exhibition and conference halls, as well as casinos. The complex itself will be located not far from the Manas International Airport, and only foreign tourists will be able to visit gambling houses, for the Kyrgyz gambling will remain prohibited.
Government officials think that such a large project will raise foreign investments, will facilitate tourist development, and gambling zone will become an important revenue source for state budget.
Currently, this legislative draft is under discussion, and undergoes the developmental stage. Besides that representatives of gambling business and authorities will have to face the negative attitude of population towards lifting the ban on gambling. The majority of citizens haven’t changed their mind about gambling business, and still consider it to be pernicious for society. Potential state revenue from the industry doesn’t attract them.
Expert of Slotegrator Denis Dzubenko has shared his thoughts on the prospects of gambling development in Kyrgyzstan:
“Situation with gambling in Kyrgyzstan is very similar to the situation in Ukraine, Russia, and many other CIS countries. After long years of total ban authorities eventually decide to restore gambling industry, as far as they understand that it’s simpler to regulate it and get some income, than to ban it, thus making it illegal. But in practice it’s very difficult to implement this decision. First of all it’s necessary to develop distinct legislation that will satisfy the requirements of the country, industry representatives and society. Further, operators will have to build a new industry starting from scratch. But if we turn to the experience of such countries as Georgia, Kazakhstan, China, we will see that Kyrgyzstan has bright prospects. The most important thing is that the process has been started”.