Gambling has been banned in Kyrgyzstan, but sportsbooks are still operational in the country.
In 2012 Kyrgyz Parliament has passed a law banning all forms of gambling in the country. The law was passes unanimously with 101 votes in favor. As a result legal gambling industry ceased to exist in Kyrgyzstan.
Prior to this change in Kyrgyz gambling laws, the authorities waged a lengthy war against illegal gambling dens, and only in 2011 have closed down over 60 underground gambling establishments ceasing over 30 roulette tables and over 700 slot machines. Another reason for the total ban was the huge spike in the number of problem gamblers among Kyrgyz population.
According to official data, only in the city of Osh there have over 500 gambling halls both legal and illegal, and a dozen casinos. Proponents of the ban on gambling argued that most establishments were run by or belonged to MPs and high-ranking government officials.
Gambling ban and sports betting in Kyrgyzstan
Bakit Jetigenov MP, was one of the most active opponents of gambling. According to him existence of casinos and other gambling establishments, had huge negative effects on the local population. However, most proponents of the ban referred only to casinos and gambling halls, while sports betting was considered to be less damaging.
In fact land-based and online sportsbooks in Kyrgyzstan are now in a very uncertain state. Official wording of the new law reads “all forms of gambling are banned”, but the majority of sports betting shops were allowed to continue operation. Betting on sports has always been popular in the country, and Kyrgyz lawmakers feared that banning this activity may lead to big problems with population.
Currently, sports betting outlets are governed by an uncertain set or rules and regulations. However, Kyrgyz lawmakers are already addressing the issue and are debating a special gambling law referring only to sports betting business.
There is another point directly connected to the ban on gambling in Kyrgyzstan. State coffers have lost millions since gambling taxes are no longer coming. There are some muffled voices in Kyrgyz parliament that perhaps gambling should be allowed to return to the country. It remains to be seen, however, when and if gambling will be made legal again.