International edition
September 26, 2021

Casinos may now operate only in two small resorts: Kapshagai and Shchuchinsk

Kazakhstan closes down casinos in big cities

(Kazakhstan).- The vast Central Asian state introduced a law in January to end gambling in big cities by March 31. Casinos and slot-machine arcades have been all-but eradicated in Kazakhstan’;s commercial capital Almaty, city officials say.

C

asinos may now operate only in two small resort towns: Kapshagai, which is near Almaty, and Shchuchinsk, close to the capital Astana.

"Out of 100 places that we checked, 99 were closed," Zhanat Tastemirova, deputy head of Almaty’s tax committee, told reporters. "We continue inspections on a daily basis."

Casinos mushroomed across Almaty and other ex-Soviet cities during the 1990s and many were used for money-laundering, critics said.

"Day after day we were receiving letters from citizens who complained about casinos appearing on every corner and asked us to stop that," said Yerlan Buzurbayev, a senior official at the Almaty mayor’s office.

The city had offered casino owners help in moving into other lines of work, but none had accepted. "Maybe they are moving to Kapshagai," Buzurbayev said. Even after the law was published in January, at least five businessmen applied for gambling licences, he said, apparently confident of recouping their investment in only two months.

Northern neighbour Russia has proposed similar restrictions on gambling which have yet to come into force.

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