Publication date: 26 Oct 2022
The gambling market in Uzbekistan is an ambiguous phenomenon. On the one hand, the operation of any casinos and betting shops is prohibited by law. On the other hand, there is demand from active and solvent audience. Consequently, Uzbek gambling is developing and even prospering. Therefore, it is high time to learn how to promote online betting and gambling in Uzbekistan from the 3SNET Review.
How is betting and gambling regulated in Uzbekistan?
All bookmaker’s offices and casinos in Uzbekistan are regulated by the Uzbek president’s decree, Governmental Agreement No. 608 “On measures to curb illegal activities related to gambling”, dated 28 March 2007. This document prohibits all gambling and betting in the country. The law specifies separately that the prohibition also applies to “the provision of services in telecommunications networks, including by World Wide Web service providers, for the organization and running of gambling and other risk-based games”.
What kind of gambling is permitted in Uzbekistan?
- Interesting fact! Until recently, Uzbekistan was seriously planning to legalize betting. In December 2019, as part of the decree “On measures to raise football in Uzbekistan to a whole new stage of development”, the legalization and licensing of betting shops was announced. Legal bookmakers in Uzbekistan were supposed to start operating on 1 January 2021. But this never happened because no regulatory mechanisms were developed. Finally, in April 2022, the decision to legalize betting in Uzbekistan was cancelled altogether.
Participation in illegal gambling is punishable under Article 191 of the Administrative Liability Code of Uzbekistan. The fine ranges from 3 to 5 base calculating amount (BCA)*, with a fine of 5 to 10 base calculating amounts if the offence is repeated within a year. Furthermore, all gambling paraphernalia, money and valuables serving as bets and winnings are confiscated.
Likewise, a fine with confiscation of equipment and software can be imposed for the organization of an online casino or betting shop, ranging from 5 to 15 BCA.
The Criminal Code of Uzbekistan also contains Article 278 “Organization and conduct of gambling and other risk-based games” (Chapter XX “Crimes against public order”). Under the Criminal Code, the illegal organization or conduct of gambling is punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment. Committing the offence repeatedly or by a group – up to 10 years.
The organization of online casino or bookmaker’s office (i.e., “provision of services in telecommunication networks, including by Internet providers, replication, duplication, software distribution”) is punished by fine from 50 to 75 basic calculating amounts or mandatory community service up to 360 hours or correctional labour up to 3 years.
*Basic calculating amount (BCA) is 300,000 soums/1684.62 Russian roubles/27.2 US dollars from 1 June 2022.
How much money is being made in Uzbekistan’s gambling market?
During the discussion on the possible legalization of gambling in Uzbekistan (in November 2019), presidential adviser Abdujabar Abduvahitov at a meeting at the National Olympic Committee voiced the following data: every year Uzbekistan loses about $50 million due to the “gray market” of bookmaking activities and online betting. That money goes to Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Thailand, Malaysia and Russia, where Uzbeks can gamble offline and online.
Advertising rules for casinos and bookmakers in Uzbekistan
The Advertising Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan prohibits any dissemination of information about illegal products and services. As betting and gambling activities are not allowed in the country, they cannot be advertised.
How are unlicensed casino and betting sites blocked in Uzbekistan?
The Consumer Protection Agency under the Antimonopoly Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan controls the compliance of advertising information placed on the internet (including social networks) with the advertising legislation. It is this agency, together with the Agency for Information and Mass Communications, that restricts access to sites with illegal betting or gambling activities.
The agencies do not maintain any registers or lists of bookmakers and casinos banned in Uzbekistan and do not provide information. As part of the 2021 report, the Consumer Protection Agency stated that “in 1105 cases (a total of 27,000 investigations were conducted in 2021), on illegal betting and betting shops, in 102 cases advertising of these services was detected and removed. Eventually, access to more than 30 sites illegally advertising betting shops was restricted. And although “work in this sphere is ongoing”, the latest news in this area is published in September 2021. Based on all these facts, it can be concluded that the activities of state authorities are focused on other issues, and the blocking of casino and betting sites is only carried out after an appeal from citizens.
- The State Inspectorate for Control in the Field of Informatization and Telecommunications (Uzkomnazorat) also operates in the country. However, this organization has nothing to do with blocking websites in Uzbekistan. But the site features a section called “Wisdom of the Day”. For instance, “See the bright side of everything, and if there is none, erase the dark side until it shines”. Let us hope that this applies to the future of Uzbek gambling.
At the end of May 2022, Lt. Col. Bekhzod Mamadzhanov, head of the MIA’s Cybersdefense Center, declared the blocking of betting sites in Uzbekistan useless. He said most of them are located on foreign servers, so “it is impossible to physically prevent them from operating”.
Uzbek Justice Minister Ruslanbek Davletov has a similar view. “Since the servers of online casinos and betting sites are located abroad, it is impossible to disconnect them from the internet, and any blockage can be bypassed with a VPN,” the minister specified.
How to attract Uzbekistan’s audience to betting and casino sites?
The Republic of Uzbekistan is a state in Central Asia with a population of about 35 million people.
The national currency is the soum (UZS).
The state language is Uzbek. However, note that the Uzbek script exists in two variants. One is in Latin script, the other in Cyrillic. Therefore, for example, “bookmaker” may be written as “bukmeyker” or “bukmekerlik”.
The second most commonly used language is Russian because Uzbekistan was part of the USSR for 67 years (from 1924 to 1991). English is compulsory from 1st class at school.
The main religion is Islam, about 90% of the population consider themselves Muslims. It should be borne in mind that the religion has a negative attitude towards gambling. However, Uzbekistan is officially a secular country.
- About the attitude to betting on sports and gambling in casinos in Hinduism, read a special review about India. For information on gambling and Buddhism, see the overview about Thailand.
Always keep in mind that this is an Eastern country with its own traditions. The national holidays (Navruz, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha) are very much revered and include some sports activities.
Who gambles online in Uzbekistan?
The Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan reported 22m people were surfing the internet in 2021. About 19m of them were using mobile internet.
According to the HeadHunter Research Centre, the most active users of social networks are primarily teenagers and young people under the age of 35. Interestingly, the survey found that 56% of respondents respond positively to advertisements for interesting offers.
What means of payment do players from Uzbekistan choose?
According to the authoritative Uzbek publication Spot, most gambling sites working with the audience from Uzbekistan successfully accept payments through the national payment systems Uzcard and HUMO.
The country also has a large number of successful “exchange” services (bots and chat rooms in Telegram, as well as sites on .com domains). Here one can make deposits and withdrawals from any betting shops.
In addition, a new service has hit the streets of Uzbekistan in the spring of 2021. According to the Consumer Protection Agency, local entrepreneurs have opened offline outlets offering registration, deposit and withdrawal services from foreign betting sites.
What sports are popular in Uzbekistan?
- According to Google Trends, the most popular searches in the category “Sports” are “Uzbekistan national under-20 football team”, “Uzbekistan Super League 2022 and 2023”, as well as “Iraq national under-20 football team” and “Danish Football Championship”. The leading searches for “all categories” are “mini-football” and “futsal“. For all information on these sporting events and the teams’ participation, search the Sporting Events Calendar on 3SNET.
- This is one of the most sporting countries in Asia. The number one sport in Uzbekistan is football, and the number two is boxing. A very popular traditional sport is Kupkari (or uak, or uzgashi, translated as “the smoldering or struggle for the goat carcass”) horse races. Competitions are held on almost all national holidays and big family celebrations (weddings, birth of children). The riders compete on a large field and must take away the carcass of a goat from the rivals and bring it to the finish line. The prizes for winning in Kupkari may be a ram (goat), a carpet, money, cloth and bicycles. But the most prestigious prizes in Uzbekistan are a camel and a horse!
- In Uzbekistan, there are many national horse races (games): chovgan (horseback field hockey), kyz-kuvdi (catch a girl), teng keluv (pick up a handkerchief from the ground), ogdarysh (a martial art of horsemen), isindi (dart fighting), sultonlar jangi (sabre fighting), kabakhi (archery) and nizaki-netum (javelin). There’s even horse basketball – sur-papakh!
- Cockfighting and dogfighting attract a lot of interest. These are semi-legal competitions; there is no ban on them in Uzbek law.
- Billiards, which was officially banned from 2002 to 2019, got second chance for popularity thanks to Uzbekistan Billiard Sports Federation.
- Uzbek national games played by children include “Chai-Chai” (an analogue of “catch-up“), “tightrope walkers“, “Oksak-Karga” (or “Lame Crow“, a game with one leg tied up and many variations), and Lyanga (a similar hacky sack game with a flap of skin and a lead plate). “From childhood” comes ashichki, the first Uzbek game of chance. It is an analogue of “knucklebones“, where ashichki – bones of a ram’s leg – were used as stakes. There are no serious competitions in these sports, but it is possible to make creative use of the nostalgia of Uzbeks for their backyard childhood.
- In 2021, it was reported that the Sports Ministry is preparing to recognize the new sport and organize a teqball championship. It’s a mixture of football and table tennis, where you have to throw the ball to the other side of the table with any part of your body other than your hands.
What are the most popular websites in Uzbekistan?
In January 2022, the Oliy Majlis News Service reported at a Senate session that Telegram is the most popular messenger in the country, with 18m Uzbeks using it. Social networking sites are next in line:
Odnoklassniki (16.7m residents of the republic), Facebook (4.7m) Uzbeks are registered on Facebook, Instagram (3.7m), VKontakte (2.6m), LinkedIn (288k) Twitter (51.6k).
Uzbekistan is a state where not only individual websites are blocked, but also services in general. For example, Uzbek authorities have unblocked Twitter, WeChat and Vkontakte since 1 August 2022 alone.
- Incidentally, in Uzbekistan as in Russia the use of VPNs is allowed (not prohibited!) for ordinary users.
At present (October 2022), only TikTok is blocked in Uzbekistan. According to the registry of infringers of rights of personal data subjects, the restriction was set in July 2021. There are no other infringers on the registry.
- Interesting story: in November 2021, Uzbekistan “unilaterally and inconsiderately” restricted Uzbeks’ access to Telegram, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Odnoklassniki. As a result, Ziyaev Golibsher, head of Uzkomnadzorat, and Shukhrat Sadikov, minister for development of information technology and communication, were dismissed from their posts.
According to Similarweb, Google is the most-used search engine in Uzbekistan in September 2022, with a 96.44% share of the search market. The next most popular search engine is Yandex (1.48%). The most used browser is Chrome (75.23%), another 8.88% use Safari and 6% use Samsung Internet.
Unfortunately, the legalization of gambling in Uzbekistan, which has just begun, faces a major problem: a lack of proper legislation and a desire to develop it. On the other hand, the system of blocking online casino and betting sites that are already in operation is also imperfect! Residents have long been willing to play and bet on sports and there are no problems with withdrawal of winnings either. This means that betting and gambling in Uzbekistan is an excellent niche, which can give great conversion and profits! The 3SNET network as always is ready to help with this and has prepared top offers, which are waiting for quality traffic from Uzbekistan and they are ready to pay good money for it!
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