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Kyrgyzstan takes center stage in Central Asia by legalizing gambling

July 21, 2022
5 min

The current trend of massive development in the Asian region is again reaffirmed by Kyrgyzstan’s decision to regulate its gambling market. Let’s see how the process is going in this article.

Kyrgyzstan is a scenic and mountainous country, home to lake Issyk-Kul, which is among the ten largest and deepest lakes in the world; it’s also among the safest countries to visit, and fifth-best adventure travel destination according to the British Backpacker Society in 2018.

Despite being an attractive destination, a lack of investment in the tourism sector has led to a low number of visitors, most of whom come from nearby post-Soviet countries. The Kyrgyz economy is mainly based on well-developed agriculture and natural resources, including coal, gas, and petroleum. High inflation and widespread corruption along with a drastic drop in remittances following the current conflict in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Russia indicate that Kyrgyzstan needs significant foreign investment to strengthen its economy.

Kyrgyz market re-opening in 2022

Casinos were banned in Kyrgyzstan in 2012; in 2015, slot halls and sports betting were banned as well. Prohibition came once authorities realized that the sector was booming and, despite the efforts of law enforcement, it had become linked to organized crime. The stringent measures provoked frustration and even protests, particularly when it came to industry workers’ sudden unemployment. As it often happens, the ban led to the development of an underground black market — people organized gambling in any business establishment they could, sometimes even in their own homes.

The Kyrgyz government reacted with an idea to pass legislation permitting special gambling zones for tourists. This would attract foreign investment, motivate operators to build hotels, contribute to tourism in the country, and help to reduce unemployment.

Today, 10 years later, we are witnessing this idea coming true.

According to Presient Sayr Japarov, “Money is leaving the country. With opening of gambling establishments, money, on the contrary, will come to the republic.” The bill “On gambling” has already passed two readings and is about to be signed by the President Japarov. Once it enters into force, the Cabinet of Ministers will work on setting the licensing process and fees.

What will gambling in Kyrgyzstan look like in 2022?

The law is still in the process of approval, and more detailed information regarding the licensing fees and conditions is still expected. Follow the updates in the Industry news section of our site and be the first to know when something happens.

What we know so far:

  • Land-based gambling establishments will be allowed to open in large hotels and restaurants.
  • It was suggested that special gambling zones would only be located in the Issyk-Kul region, but Japarov insisted on permitting casinos in the whole country, so the current version of the law also mentions the capital, Bishkek, and other cities all over the country.
  • There must be at least 10 tables in Bishkek casinos, and at least five tables in other cities.
  • There also must be at least 30 slot machines in every land-based gambling hall, and their RTP must be not less than 75%.
  • Locals won’t be able to play: people with Kyrgyz citizenship (even if it’s their second citizenship) will be excluded from playing, and only tourists will be allowed in casinos.
  • Currency exchanges in land-based establishments must be licensed by the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan.
  • It will be forbidden to use credit cards and loans to gamble.
  • Violation of the law “On gambling” will be penalized by high fines and license revocation.

Target: Central Asia

Operators interested in the Kyrgyz market should study the region closely before diving in. Since only tourists will legally be allowed to gamble, it’s a safe assumption that Kyrgyz casinos will have plenty of visitors from countries where gambling is highly restricted or entirely prohibited despite its popularity, such as China.

The dominoes are falling in Asia. In country after country, players demonstrate interest, new technologies develop, and countries ultimately legalize gambling to increase state revenues via gambling taxes.

The first step for every online casino or sportsbook platform is localization. This includes translating all content and navigation to languages you assume your players will need (players always prefer their local languages). Localization also includes selection of gaming content — Central Asian players are fond of slots, both online and offline. Along with classic themes and plots, players in the region like modern alternatives — Kazakh and Chinese players, for instance, love live dealer games — and sports betting, which has won the hearts of players all over Asia. Preparing an extensive offer is always a good idea, especially for newly emerging gambling markets.

While game preferences are easier to predict, a bigger struggle is expected with payment methods. Knowing that credit cards won’t be used by players, we can still assume that traditional bank transactions will be popular, but there are also e-wallets to consider — and, of course, don’t forget the tremendous popularity of cryptocurrencies (for some players, the only option).

How can Slotegrator help?

The Slotegrator team has years of experience in dealing with even the most extraordinary and challenging requests. Our range of solutions has everything operators need, from comprehensive casino and sportsbook platform software to payment method and game integration — check out our APIgrator solution, which enables integration of over 15,000 games from more than 100 providers in one session.

Slotegrator also provides licensing and advisory services and innovative products such as Telegram Casino, for which we were nominated as the Industry Innovation of the Year by the SBC Awards.

New operators as well as already established international brands can enter new jurisdictions with our help, but everything begins with a chat. Get a free consultation and find out more about world gambling markets.

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