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Kyrgyz Casinos Face Closure, With No Alternative In Sight

Casino workers protest their workplace closures outside the Kyrgyz parliament building in Bishkek on September 29.
BISHKEK -- Casinos throughout Kyrgyzstan face closure under a controversial new law that foresees the country designating a single area where gambling will be permitted, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The parliament approved the law on September 29 despite protests in Bishkek by thousands of local casino personnel.

Under the law, all casinos must be shut down by January 1.

The authors of the draft law originally proposed July 2012 as the final closure date.

No location for the proposed single "gambling zone" has been identified.

Thousands of casino workers picketed the parliament building in Bishkek as lawmakers took the bill to a vote, demanding that deputies reject the draft law. Protesters held placards saying, "Deputies, Stop Destroying the Economy!" "By Closing Casinos You Will Lose Millions in Taxes!" and "Fight Gambling Barons, Not Casino Personnel!"

Hundreds of casino employees in the southern towns of Osh and Jalal-Abad staged similar protests.

The law has been sent to President Roza Otunbaeva. It comes into force only after she has signed it.

Read more in Kyrgyz here