Currency: Kazakh Tenge (KZT)
Timezone: UTC+5 – UTC+6
Kazakhstan is a gigantic country – although not in terms of population (18.04 million), rather in terms of its land mass (1,052,100 sq miles). However, all across that giant land, only two small regions are legally allowed to have casinos.
In 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan passed a gambling law designating two regions in the country for land based casinos – one in the North (around the city of Burabay) and one in the South (around the city of Kapchagay). To give you a feel for the domestic distances in Kazakhstan, those two cities are about 900 miles far away from each other.
These legal gambling zones are following the Russian model. However, their neighbor to the North has twice as many, four zones designated for games of chance – at the same time, they also have eight times the Kazakh population.
Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union for most of the 20th Century. They gained independence on December 10th, 1991. During the Soviet rule, gambling was strictly prohibited as the Communism views it as the idle pastime of the bourgeoisie.
After the Soviet rule ended the gambling market became unregulated and started to flourish. That is until the aforementioned 2007 introduction of legal gambling zones. Due to the new legislation, the number of casinos drastically declined the country – but the remaining ones are now properly licenced and regulated.
Famous Kazakhstani Poker Players
Kazakhstan hasn’t had an international poker superstar yet.
Currently, Aidyn Auyezkanov tops their live tournament winnings list on Hendon with $535,966. However, he collected that sum with just three live cashes. In May 2016, he came in 3rd in the €50,000 EPT Super High Roller in Monte Carlo for €463,510 – that is where the bulk of his career earnings come from. Aside from that third place finish, he only has two other live cashes to his name, both under $5,000.
As for online poker, a player from Qaraghandy, Kazakhstan playing under the screen name “CooLSerGZ” on PokerStars and “CooL_SerGZ” on partypoker has cashed for over $1.235 million in MTT’s during his career. “3DTemujiN” also on Stars has cashed for $796,359. However, he also has 4,472 hands of high stakes PLO cash games tracked by an online database. In that sample, he’s $5,238 in profit.
– Playing Live Poker in Kazakhstan –
Live Poker Legislation in Kazakhstan
As we discussed in our intro, since 2007, land casinos can legally operate only in the Northern and the Southern gambling zones in Kazakhstan.
If you wish to apply for a licence, you need to contact the regulating body. It has such a long name that some might think it’s straight out of the 2006 classic comedy by Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat. It’s called “The Committee of Sports and Physical Training Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan”.
Live Poker Venues in Kazakhstan
According to worldcasinodirectory.com, 13 casinos operate currently in Kazakhstan. However, they only have 5 poker rooms among them.
Despite the scarcity of poker rooms, Kazakhstan has hosted some major poker events.
In November 2015, the World Poker Tour held a stop at the Bombay Casino in Kapchagay, the “capital” of the southern gambling zone. The main event of the WPT partypoker National Kazakhstan poker festival had a $1,000 buy-in and 150 entrants which resulted in a $130,500 prize pool.
The other high-profile tourney series in the country is the Eurasian Poker Tour, or EAPT for short. Through 2013-2017, they had a stop in Kazakhstan each year. Aside from the aforementioned Bombay Casino, the Cashville Casino in the city of Astana also hosted EAPT events. However, that changed in 2018, when only Russia and Belarus were included on the schedule – and Kazakhstan didn’t “make the cut” in 2019 either.
Unfortunately, there is no year-round poker action in either of these giant casinos mentioned above. For most of the year, you can only play versions of poker in which you play against the house.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Kazakhstan –
Online Poker Legislation in Kazakhstan
The 2007 gambling law that established the gambling zones of land casinos also set up a strict licencing scheme for Kazakh companies who wish to offer gambling on the internet.
There are only a few Kazakh online gambling sites. One of them is the sportsbook finbet.kz, which does not offer online poker.
However, that doesn’t mean that foreign gambling sites aren’t easy to access for Kazakhstani players. In fact, the government does virtually nothing to stop them from playing on those sites – the URL’s aren’t blocked, players don’t face legal trouble, etc. Also, almost no major online poker room restricts Kazakh players – the few exceptions are Guts and Betfair.
On the other hand, PokerStars, partypoker, Unibet, Natural8 and many other poker sites are easily accessible for Kazakh players.
Bombay Casino is a modern entertainment complex in the southern area of Kazakhstan. The Poker club has 4 poker tables in the main hall and a table in the VIP Lounge.