Uzbekistan Gambling Market Set To Open After 16-Year Prohibition

April 30, 2024
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Uzbekistan will establish new gambling regulations and a licensing regime on January 1, 2025, legalising online bookmaking activities and lotteries after more than 16 years of prohibition.
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Uzbekistan will establish new gambling regulations and a licensing regime on January 1, 2025, legalising online bookmaking activities and lotteries after more than 16 years of prohibition.

It follows the signing of the Decree "On measures to improve the regulation of the organization and conduct of lotteries and games based on risk" by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on April 19, 2024.

The law intends to improve player protection by addressing the country’s growing black market and is estimated to raise $6m annually for the state.

Online lottery and bookmaking businesses will be taxed 4 percent of gross gambling yield.

Government bodies, local authorities and charities will be able to conduct lotteries exclusively through lottery operators on a contractual basis.

The legal age limit for gambling will be 18 years old. 

The National Agency of Prospective Projects (NAPP) is tasked with supervising the industry and issuing licences.

In a statement on April 26, the NAPP said it has prepared for its new task by learning from authorities in Singapore, Hungary, South Korea and Georgia.

“The decree was developed on the basis of an in-depth study of advanced foreign experience in order to introduce modern technologies in the field of regulation of activities related to the organization of risk-based games and lotteries,” the NAPP said.

President Mirziyoyev has long pushed for the reintroduction of gambling in the country, with the debate over who would regulate the industry being a key point of political contention.

In April 2023, Mirziyoyev ordered ministers to submit proposals on the legalisation of sports betting by the end of 2023.

Officially, bookmakers have been banned in Uzbekistan since 2007, but interest in online betting grew significantly during the 2020 lockdown.

Foreign operators noticed the demand during the pandemic and organised the acceptance of black market bets from Uzbekistan, translating their websites into Uzbek and even accepting payments via local payment systems.

This led to the decree "On protection of the rights of consumers of digital products (services) and measures to strengthen the fight against violations committed by means of digital technologies", which banned cross-border card payments from Uzbek commercial banks for gambling-related activities from December 1, 2023.

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