KYRGYZSTAN BANS ALL GAMBLING
30th September, 2011 at 03:12:31
Eastern nation introduces a blanket ban, closing existing land casinos
Kyrgyzstan became a no-go area for gambling last week when the parliament overwhelmingly decided to introduce a blanket ban on the pastime, potentially closing existing operators throughout the country.
The BBC reports that there was virtually no opposition to the proposal, with lawmakers influenced by reports that compulsive gambling in the nation has become a major social problem.
The new law allows a single gambling zone to be designated, but no location has yet been identified.
Thousands of casino workers with their livelihoods in jeopardy took to the streets of Bishkek to protest against the passage of the law, and the few dissenting voices warned that the industry was a source of significant tax revenues, which would now be denied to state coffers.
Protesters held placards saying "Deputies, Stop Destroying the Economy", "By Closing Casinos You Will Lose Millions in Taxes" and "Fight Gambling Barons, Not Casino Personnel".
Supporting the ban, Baktybek Dzhetigenov of the conservative Fatherland Party said: "We are talking about the fate of many families who are losing everything because of casinos."
The ban is to be implemented early next year, and now goes to President Roza Otunbayeva for signature; last week, she called for restrictions but warned that an outright ban would only drive gambling underground.
However, the BBC speculates that the president may leave the problem to her successor, with presidential elections taking place next month.
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