The Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan has revealed plans to create an integrated resort consisting of three hotels, commercial facilities, shops, conference rooms and a gambling complex. Even though the service would be available to foreign citizens only, it still announces the end of the total ban on gambling which was passed in 2015; most gambling activities were first banned back in 2012.

The resort will be built around 26 kilometers from the country’s capital Bishkek and near the main airport Manas International. A statement published by the Ministry of Economy of Kyrgyzstan reveals that the gambling complex will be a closed territory, which would be controlled by a relevant executive body. The project is expected to boost tourism in the country whose neighbours include China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Economy stated that the country annually lost approximately $6.59 million in tax revenues as a result of the gambling prohibition. Officials admitted that the ban instead of preventing locals from gambling moved such activities “into the shadows.” The Ministry added that during these four years they “failed to eradicate the illegal activities of casinos as well as the activities of gaming machines rooms.”

The statement further explains that even though the ban was adopted in order to protect “vulnerable people, who become addicted to gambling,” it only created an illegal gambling market that is often accompanied by expansion of “criminal organisations.”

Implementation of the project includes investments of at least $200 million and should help the development of exchange of cultures, tourism and investment climate in Kyrgyzstan. Before the project starts, the country has to pass two bills; one to change the law and another to give green light to the resort.