Publication date: 06 Nov 2022
Tajikistan is a small Asian country, but one with great potential. Many years ago, the authorities of the country banned all casinos, while betting activities have been legal and successful for more than 10 years. Most importantly, the Tajiks’ desire to gamble and bet hasn’t gone away! This new 3SNET report explains how to promote online betting and gambling in Tajikistan.
How is betting and gambling regulated in Tajikistan?
According to the Presidential Decree № 328 of 20 July 2000 “On streamlining of casino activities”, gambling activities on the territory of Tajikistan were suspended for an indefinite period of time. The main reason for the ban was deficiencies in the current legislation, which led to tax violations. Since then, the operation of any casinos in the country has been officially banned.
Since 2009, the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On licensing of certain types of activities” (2004) includes in the special list of activities for which a license is required, “the organization and maintenance of cashiers of betting house, bookmaker’s offices and bingo games” (Article 18).
Online bookmakers in Tajikistan operate on a general basis. There is no specific reference in the law, and there is also no direct prohibition to accept sports betting via the internet. Consequently, if a betting company has a Tajik bookmaker’s license, no one particularly restricts the operation of the site.
Bookmaking licenses are issued by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan.
The document is issued separately for each betting shop. For example, when operating offline, it is necessary to issue each address of a betting receiving point separately. In the case of online operation, one license per site is issued.
- The application fee for a license is 10 settlement indicators*.
- In April 2020, it was decided that the cost of the license would be increased, but the exact amount will be “determined by the government at a later date”. For the time being, however, the license fee remains the same at 10 settlement indicators.
- The license for betting shops and sweepstakes must be renewed every 3 years.
*Tajikistan Settlement Indicator from 1 January 2022 is 64 somoni. Thus, to become a licensed bookmaker in Tajikistan one has to spend 640+640 somoni (about 7.5 thousand Russian roubles or 125 US dollars).
By law, the licensing agency must keep a single registry of all licensed companies. A pdf-file with a list of bookmaker license holders* and sweepstakes licenses for 2017-2021 is available on the ministry’s website. As the license is issued for land-based activities indicating a specific premises, there is a separate document for each address. The total list of bookmakers includes about 30 betting shops and 400 betting receiving points.
* Attention! From time to time the new website of the Ministry of Finance http://www.moliya.tj/, like many things in Tajikistan, fails to work.
Among the well-known bookmakers who have received a license to operate in Tajikistan are 1xBet and Tennisi. Among the major local betting companies are Raxsh (CJSC Milodiyon), BC KOMYOB (LLC Muvaffak va KOMYOB), Formula-55.
According to data published in BOCHU HIROCH weekly of the Tax Committee (article “Taxation status of gambling business entities” dated 27.10.2022), 624 gambling business entities (25 legal entities and 374 individual entrepreneurs) were registered with territorial tax authorities as of 1 October 2022. Among other subjects for taxation are the following 4 sites of betting shops.
What gambling is allowed in Tajikistan?
Punishment for gambling and betting in Tajikistan
Article 240 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan “Organization or maintenance of casinos, gaming tables and gambling machines” provides for imprisonment from 6 to 8 years with confiscation of property.
Article 465 of the CAO of Tajikistan “Gambling” promises a fine of 12 to 15 Settlement Indicators for organization of “games for money, things or valuables” for individuals, 30 to 40 for officials and 100 to 200 for legal entities with confiscation of the object of the offence. Participation in gambling and acceptance of bets by private individuals fined 3 to 5 Settlement Indicators.
How much money is made on the Tajikistan gambling market?
Since 1 January 2022, there is a new Tax Code in Tajikistan. A simplified/special tax regime is introduced for gambling business. Chapter 54 introduces the concept of a “gambling website” meaning any internet site via which a gambling business is conducted.
The tax rate for a betting shop website is set at not less than 5000 Settlement Indicators for each tax period (1 calendar month).
Therefore, if counted according to the exchange rate in autumn 2022, each legal betting site in Tajikistan pays a monthly tax of 320 thousand somoni (about 2 million Russian roubles or 31,000 US dollars).
The tax rate for other types of gambling sites is determined by local state authorities.
For offline betting, the tax rate is also determined at the local level, depending on where the betting shop is located.
As stated in the Tax Committee of Tajikistan (Bochu Hiroch weekly issue of 27.10.2022) the projected tax figures for gambling business for the 9 months of 2022 nationwide were expected to be 38.2 million somoni or 129.7% in relation to the same period of 2021. However, the tax inspectorates in different cities and districts failed to collect all expected funds into the budget, with an underpayment of 1.4 mln somoni.
Advertising rules for casinos and bookmakers in Tajikistan
Advertising of gambling (land-based and online casinos) in Tajikistan is prohibited under the law “On Advertising” of 01.08.2003. It stipulates a ban on advertising of any goods and services that are prohibited for production and sale. Consequently, since gambling is banned, so is any advertising.
Betting advertising in Tajikistan is subject to the general provisions of the Law on Advertising. Thus, the requirements for the websites of Tajik betting shops are as follows:
- advertising on the territory of the Republic of Tajikistan is disseminated in the state language;
- the website must indicate the license number, as well as the name of the body which issued this license;
- as a rule, the sites are located in the national domain .tj.
How are unlicensed casino and betting sites blocked in Tajikistan?
The Communication Service under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan oversees all advertising and information on the Internet. Strangely enough, we have not been able to find a valid website of the agency and, accordingly, lists of blocked gambling and betting sites in Tajikistan. If you find it, please contact us!
Since 2010, search engines (Google, Yandex) and social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, OK, Youtube), Wikipedia, Amazon.com, messengers (Messenger from FB, WhatsApp, Viber), information and analytical sites have been periodically blocked in Tajikistan without explanation from the authorities. News feeds periodically contain reports of temporary mobile internet disconnections and even sms messages across the country. As a result, Internet users from Tajikistan have massively learned to search for, install and use various VPN services.
How to attract Tajikistan’s audience to betting and casino sites?
The Republic of Tajikistan is located in Central Asia. The population is about 10 million people, most of whom are Tajiks (90%). It is a secular state, but most of them profess Islam.
Gambling Asia: how to promote betting and gambling?
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The state language is Tajik; the written language is Tajik Cyrillic. Russian has the status of a language for inter-ethnic communication.
The national currency is Tajik Somoni. As of mid-Autumn 2022, 1 Somoni = approximately 6 Russian Roubles = 0.1 US Dollar = 0.1 Euro.
More than a quarter of Tajikistan’s population (26.5%) live below the poverty line (World Bank data for 2021).
Internet availability and popular websites in Tajikistan
According to the Communication Service of Tajikistan for the first half of 2022, the speed of incoming Internet in Tajikistan is 100 Gbit/s. The number of Internet users in the country is more than 4 million people. Since the beginning of 2022, more than 40 base stations improving 4G technology have been put into operation in all regions of the country.
By the end of the first half of 2022, the number of mobile phone users in Tajikistan had reached nearly 8 million, though only 5.5 million of them can be called “active”. Incidentally, all residents of the country must re-register their sim cards for the new 2014 ID cards by 15 February 2023.
According to mobile operator MegaFon Tajikistan (March 2022), since 2019, there has been a rapid increase in the popularity of social networks and messengers in the country.
Internet traffic to the TikTok service increased 50-fold during this period. Nevertheless, such figures are explained by the fact that this social network was launched in Tajikistan only in 2019.
- In 2 years, the internet traffic pumped by subscribers through WhatsApp has increased 6-fold. More than 30% of young subscribers (under 30) choose it, while the rest of the age categories use it at 40% each.
- Facebook* increased its traffic 5 times.
- Instagram* quadrupled its traffic. In all age groups it is used by at least 40% of subscribers (almost 60% among young people).
- Telegram, YouTube and MegaFon Life messenger are in third place with a 3-fold growth rate. Users under 30 years of age prefer Telegram in 45% of cases, the remaining users have 35%.
- Viber was the most unpopular among users of all ages: just 1%.
- More than half use Samsung devices. The second and third places go to Xiaomi and Huawei. Apple smartphones are in 4th place.
*Facebook and Instagram are banned in Russia.
According to AppFollow, an app monitoring service (January 2022), the most popular apps among Tajiks were:
- for Android: Expresspay, Somon Ads, Alif Mobi (e-wallet) and Eskhata Online (banking application).
- for iOS: Somon Ads, DC Wallet, Alif Mobi, Formulla 55 (local bookmaker app).
What sports are popular in Tajikistan?
- The first gambling game, parts of which have been found on the territory of Tajikistan, is a set of lamb bones called astragalus (alchiks). The game still exists in a modified form, under the name “alchiki” and is very popular among children and young people.
- The majority of Tajikistan’s population is Muslim. This religion has a negative attitude towards gambling, including betting on sports. However, there are some exceptions: disputes when betting at horse and camel races (sibk) and during archery competitions (remoye). These competitions are recognized as ” training and improving”.
- Football is the number one sport in Tajikistan. The Football Championship of Tajikistan (Tajikistan Higher League) has been held since 1992. The most titled team in the country is Istiklol from Dushanbe. Mini-football (futsal) is also hugely popular, and the Professional Tajikistan Futsal League regularly holds tournaments at different levels. Follow the events on the 3SNET Sporting Events Calendar.
- Various types of wrestling – taekwondo, sambo and judo – attract a lot of attention.
Which means of payment do Tajik players choose?
Bookmaker companies that accept sports bets from Tajikistan residents offer deposits or withdrawals using Visa and MasterCard, JetonWallet, SticPay, Piastrix, ecoPayz and cryptocurrencies.
However, there are also local payment methods that are most convenient for the local population.
- The local National Payment System “KORTI MILLI” is very common.
- Popular e-wallets in Tajikistan include TezSum from the First Microfinance Bank of Tajikistan and Tcell, MyBabilon (a hybrid of mobile phone operator app and e-wallet), Atlaspay from Tamvil payment system, Pardokht, FMFB.pay.
- Among the most downloaded applications in Tajikistan, as written above, are e-wallets Expresspay, Alif Mobi, DC Wallet, as well as the application of local JSC Bank Eskhata.
- Tajikistan has one Islamic bank (JSC Tavhidbank) and two “Islamic banking windows” from JSC Humo and Imon. Perhaps, the holders of plastic cards of these banks may face restrictions on payments. For instance, in April 2022, Alif Bank (a traditional bank that started the process of transformation into an Islamic bank) for some time restricted “in accordance with Shariah norms”, transactions in payment for entertainment facilities, shops with tobacco and alcohol, and gambling establishments (casino games, sports betting, transfers to bookmakers, lotteries).
Now is the time to turn your attention to Tajikistan! The market is not yet saturated, yet it is already developing steadily and effectively. Gambling is officially banned in the country, while online control and blocking of websites is quite weak. Betting attracts decent audiences as betting can be done through both legal and foreign bookmakers. The 3SNET Network has selected the best offers from casinos and betting shops in Tajikistan, where quality traffic is expected and they are willing to pay well for it!
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