Kazakhstan may have already moved its casinos into two Las Vegas-style enclaves, but the gambling industry has found a new way to grow via the spread of a new version of a one-armed bandit.
Bookmakers specializing in sports gambling are proliferating in Kazakhstan. And now, thanks to the spread of electronic payment machines, just about anyone can place a bet easily and anonymously.Thousands of the machines – originally designed to ease the purchase of phone credit and to pay utility bills – are located in high-traffic locations, including grocery stores and bus stops across the country.
The automated machines accept bets starting at 500 tenge ($3.30), putting gambling within reach of those in the lowest income brackets, including students. Though the legal age for gambling in Kazakhstan is 21, there’s no oversight of the machines, prompting concerns about underage gambling. Anyone can place a bet at the bookmakers’ automated gambling points, but to bet via public payment terminals run by companies like QIWI, one must have a registered account.
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Paul Bartlett is an Almaty-based freelance writer.