Uzbekistan Set to Legalise Sport Betting
Another one of central Asia’s nations has passed laws to enact a series of sports betting operator establishment programs, starting in 2021. The government of Uzbekistan this week announced proposals to launch a sports betting industry within the country. After a long internal political battle to get the laws over the line, the government was swayed by the financial opportunities the new industry will create. Funding for sports programs, particularly the Uzbekistan National Football team is expected to receive direct benefit from the new incoming revenue.
The Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the decree into law, setting in motion a plethora of legal changes that would lift the tight anti-gambling laws that the country previously had to live with. The President has reportedly been very insistent over his intentions for the money raised from this latest venture to filter its way into grassroots sports initiatives, developing a video assistant referee system for the country’s national league, and open sports schools for children. Overall, the initiatives are expected to increase interest in the region from tourists, and attract corporate investment to help boost the local economies of Uzbekistan’s small principalities and towns.
The idea to launch a legalized sports betting industry in Uzbekistan has been raised many times in the past years. The financial incentive of increased tax revenue, higher income from tourism and increased regional investment spurred the government to act. But it appears that the football team and the enhancement of the national football structure were the primary motivation. The Uzbekistan government has set a goal for the country to become an elite football nation by 2030, and this latest law change will do wonders for this ambition.
World Cup Qualification Ambition
There has always been a direct correlation regarding the amount of investment a country decides to give to football and the performance of its national team at big tournaments. The sport requires huge support structures, grass-roots investment and large talent pools of players, coaches and physios. But the most important aspect of any football program is the quality and availability of the football facilities to inspire the next generation.
No doubt, this will be an expensive endeavor. It will require a very responsible spending structure, with prudent economic principals applied to under-funded government agencies. But once established, a fully legalized sports betting industry in Uzbekistan could lead to the country breaking their target of achieving World Cup qualification by the year 2030.
These measures are intended to bring football to a new level in Uzbekistan.Shavkat MirziyoyevPresident of Uzbekistan
The ambition is clear from the President. The nation has for a long time been a consumer of European football, with millions of Uzbekistani fans watching games weekly from England, Germany, and France. But the latest challenge of reaching the World Cup for the first time will forever change the landscape of sport in Uzbekistan.
The country has in the past produced great players, such as Maksim Shatskikh and Valery Kechinov. Launching grassroots football projects, building new facilities and gathering as much public support for these infrastructure projects will be integral to the success of the World Cup qualification ambition.
Football Has Strong Political Influence
Despite gambling laws being an item on the political agenda of the ruling party for some time, it is the latest AFC Asian Cup results that appear to have been the catalyst for the latest legalization of gambling steps taken by Uzbekistan. The tournament began very successfully for Uzbekistan men’s national football team. Achieving a stellar group stage set of results with 7 wins and 1 loss, it was surprising to see them capitulate so quickly in the knockout stages. The anti-climatic end to their tournament campaign resulted in Uzbekistan finishing 10th place.
The disappointment of the failed efforts in the AFC Asia Cup led to a surge in support for the sports betting legalization program . With huge resources of funds expected to flow into grassroots football, Uzbekistan seems to finally be pursuing the huge goal of qualifying for a football World Cup in the next 10 years.