Posted on: May 26, 2022, 08:49h. 

Last updated on: May 26, 2022, 09:26h.

In a move that will completely alter the country’s landscape, Armenia has approved a ban on cash for all types of gambling. The move is an attempt to trace all transactions and reduce gambling harm.

Shangri La Casino in Armenia
Shangri La Casino in Armenia. It, as well as all other land-based and online gambling options, can no longer accept cash for gambling. (Image: Shangri La Casino)

The Parliament of Armenia is fulfilling its mission to clamp down on the gambling industry. It amended its laws on land-based gambling activity, online games, casinos and lotteries.

The amendment restricts the methods of reloading user accounts in virtually any type of game that may result in winnings. This automatically complicates the betting mechanisms in gambling.

Members of Parliament Gevorg Papoyan and Tsovinar Vardanyan of the “Civil Contract” political party submitted the draft legislation. It later received approval by 67 deputies, accounting for more than half of the complement. The new rules take effect in 10 days.

Cleaning Up the Gambling Industry

Papoyan said that the main objective of the project is to protect those citizens who are prone to gambling addiction. These are susceptible to further financial harms and their social statuses continue to deteriorate.

He noted that this significantly limits citizens’ ability to make easy bets. This will require them to think twice before gambling. It also increases oversight of gambling expenses and winnings.

Electronic cash and payment terminals will disappear for gambling purposes. These will drop off after six months, and consumers will only be able to receive gambling winnings through a bank transfer.

Because of the bill, we imposed certain restrictions. At the moment, bets can be placed in three ways: cash, electronic money, and non-cash through bank accounts or cards. Immediately after the entry into force of the law, cash will be excluded from the method. After another six months, the method of payment by electronic money will be excluded,” explained Member of Parliament Gevorg Papoyan.

Papoyan has been pushing for the changes for the past couple of months. In April, he addressed the Armenian Parliament, looking for support again. In addition to reducing gambling harm, he said, the measure will also prevent youth from gambling. Only of-age individuals can open and maintain bank accounts.

How successful the initiative is will only be determined as time goes by. There are plenty of online casinos and sportsbooks that accept cryptocurrency.

Armenia has access to several cryptocurrency exchanges which can facilitate the purchase of digital currency for subsequent use on those platforms. There are also other ways to circumvent controls.

Armenia Takes Strict Stance on Gambling

Armenia now has one of the tightest legal gambling markets following the acceptance of the new rules. It added to its restrictive nature a few months ago when lawmakers approved a measure to ban virtually all types of gambling advertising.

In March, the Armenian Parliament approved a series of new restrictions on gambling advertising. It approved the law by 63 votes in favor and 24 abstentions in a second and final reading.

The new legislation restricts gambling advertising by casinos, lotteries, bookmakers, or other organizations that offer gambling. Gambling advertising will only be allowed in hotels with four stars or more, at border checkpoints, on company websites, and on the façade of buildings that offer gambling.

Deputy Finance Minister Armen Hayrapetyan, who tabled the amendments, explained that the restrictions are the same as those of 2020. Then, operators could only advertise through the same four methods approved in March.

The changes received a lot of criticism from not only operators, but from advertising companies. The latter argued that they generate around 60%-70% of their revenue through online gambling. However, the Armenian government has said the figure is only 20%-25%.