Almost 500 illegally-operated casinos have been closed down in Kazakhstan in the last year alone following the introduction of laws in 2007 limiting gaming floors to two towns, Kapchagai, and Schuchinsk, on the shores of Lake Burabay near the capital Astana.
At that time, the Kazakh elite played at over 130 casinos in the capital of Almaty and government officials felt offering gambling in Kapchagai, and Schuchinsk would be enough to curb gambling in the capital. Whilst the territorial units of the Interior Ministry have already closed 479 illegal venues and started court proceedings against 81 illegal operators, the venues continue to spring up. So far 2,075 slots and 148 table games have been confiscated from underground venues.
The latest to flaunt the ban was a large-scale, illegal casino closed down in central Alamaty with 29 casino workers and 131 players found at the illegal property. Located on the fourth floor of a building in central Almaty, the casino, known as the Astoria, was operating with 22 live tables, 21 slots, two electronic roulette terminals and over 10,000 chips.
A spokesperson at the Commission on Criminal Policy said: “The employees of the Commission on criminal policy of Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry ahead with the Prosecutor’s Office of Bostandik district, with the assistance of the fighters of special units Berkut have revealed the underground poker club Astoria, located on the 4th floor of the building, adjoining the palace of sport named Baluana Sholaka in Almaty, said in the department’s message. The administrator of the casino is 45 year-old citizen of Uzbekistan, who has violated the migration laws and lives in Kazakhstan now. Operative-search actions are underway.”