Kazakhstan: Quick Gambling Guide

Kazakhstan is the second-largest country in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It is also the fourth most populated making it a prime target for the gambling industry. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of gambling in Kazakhstan, how gambling is conducted there, and examine what makes this country so unique for bettors there.

A Bit O’ History

It was in January 2007 when the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed into law the act created to legalize and regulate gambling in the country. Soon afterward, two gambling zones were formed. The North zone is in the Schuchinskiy District in the Akmola region and the South in the Kapchagai reservoir coast of the Almaty region. A third gambling zone, in the Mangystau region, was proposed in a draft law in October 2017.

The North and South zones contain a total of thirteen land-based casinos. There are also slot machines, betting, and bookmaker’s offices which are all considered legal gambling in Kazakhstan. Online casinos are not and remain banned to this day. The interesting thing to note is that the wording in the law has a fair deal of gray area, depending on how you interpret the information. The best example of this is how an online casino is defined.

The law clearly states that “the gambling venue using the hardware and software suite is located in the Republic of Kazakhstan” is illegal. The loophole here is that if you operate an online casino within the country, you can do so as long as your server is outside of Kazakhstan. This means that several offshore online casino operators target the country to tap into the high population there. This is a common problem in many global gambling markets. You can check https://online-casinos.kz for an updated list of safe and secure casinos in the country.

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How Gambling Works In Kazakhstan

Once gambling was made legal in Kazakhstan, existing operators were faced with two options to continue to provide gamblers with betting opportunities. They had to either follow all the guidelines spelled out in the law permitting gambling or, use the online gambling loophole in the law by setting up a mobile casino with servers outside of the country. As for the land-based casinos operating in Kazakhstan, the majority of them are Russian-owned and operated. The gambling black market is run by Uzbekistani interests. So, as it sits, opening a new casino in Kazakhstan may sound like a great idea, however, the market is under the control of foreign parties.

How Locals Gamble In Kazakhstan

There are two primary groups of gamblers in Kazakhstan. There are the middle-aged high rollers who do rather well when gambling. These players tend to gravitate towards land-based casinos. The other group of gamblers is players who would rather win or lose their money with activity in online casinos. Keep in mind, that the only online casinos that are available in Kazakhstan are those with servers located outside of the country. If you have spent any time searching for an online casino, you already know there are plenty to choose from around the globe.

As for favorite games for gamblers in Kazakhstan, online poker ranked well up the list. To verify this, a Eurasian Poker Tour was hosted by an online site over two weeks in October of 2017. The largest poker tournament series during that time guaranteed USD 850,000 in prize money making it the single largest card tourney in the history of gambling in Kazakhstan.

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What Makes Gambling So Different In Kazakhstan

The only place bookmakers’ offices or totalizators are allowed is in non-residential sites. Plus, the non-residential portion of living accommodations, an industrial building, storage area, or municipal premises are all non-permitted locations. This results in difficulty for an operator to set up a business.

The federal Financial Control Committee finds out about all financial transactions totaling close to USD 9,000 as a requirement.

Lotteries are popular in Kazakhstan. A law passed in 2016 introduced regulations to lotteries. Before this, operators turned lottery machines into illegal slot machines where almost everyone running a lottery saw a profit. After the law passed, lottery operators are no longer permitted to have another type of business once licensed for the lottery.

The gambling zones in Kazakhstan exist near large cities. This is unusual for many other countries in this part of the world. The result is that all land-based casinos in the Kazakhstan gambling zones are busy with gamblers.

The Future of Gambling In Kazakhstan

The loophole in the gambling law that permits online operators based outside of the country to offer their gaming options within Kazakhstan will continue until there is a revision to the law. That seems unlikely. The proposed opening of a third gambling zone will generate additional revenue for the federal government and it may attract other investors. The potential exists for several new land-based casinos popping up in the region around Kenderly.

Investors from Iran are keen to get this moving as tourists most opt to take the hour-long flight from Tehran to Kenderly than to other sites further away. Another positive development that could assist the growth of the gambling market is tied to changes to the legislation that are more liberal than restrictive. It will, at the very least, make the atmosphere a bit more attractive for local investors who could not come to the table before. It is safe to say that gambling has a long future in Kazakhstan.

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Final Thoughts

Kazakhstan is a popular gambling market. There are currently over 200 sportsbooks licensed to operate within the country. There are also thousands of betting offices and just a handful of land-based casinos. Online casinos are considered illegal but offshore operators can tap into the Kazakhstan market thanks to a vaguely-written law on the subject.

Some regulations control the legal gambling activities within the country but foreign interests own and operate the majority of the land-based casinos. As for the gamblers, none of this matters. The population of Kazakhstan is large enough to sustain all gambling facilities that currently exist or are in the proposal stage. It is really true…Kazakhstan is a hot gambling market on a global scale.