Armenian Lawmaker Calls for Blanket Ban on Gambling

Armenia should ban gambling altogether, an MP said today during the ongoing debate on proposed amendments to the nation’s gambling law.

The former Soviet republic has been looking to implement significant changes in the way gambling services are provided on its territory since it raised the minimum gambling age from 18 to 21 earlier this year.

Under a recently introduced bill, aiming to revise the nation’s Law on Lotteries, gambling will only be permitted in four designated areas, with those being Jermuk, Meghri, Sevan, and Tsakhkadzor. The move will aim to boost tourism in said areas and improve infrastructure where needed, while reducing the nationwide proliferation of gambling. While the move has already gained quite some momentum in Armenia’s National Assembly, Samvel Farmanyan, an Armenian MP from the Republican Party of Armenia, said today that he believed gaming and betting should be banned altogether in his homeland.

Mr. Farmanyan went on to say that he was genuinely surprised by the government’s position on the matter. To support his stance on gambling, the politician cited previous sociological studies on the issue, the results from which have shown that the public supported a blanket ban on gambling.

Important Provisions in the New Gambling Bill

If approved, the bill will unleash sweeping reforms in the country’s gambling industry. The piece of legislation contains provisions that would limit the operation of slot machines, betting shops, and other gambling services to the above-mentioned four designated areas.

The proposed changes in the Armenian Law on Lotteries also include higher fines for anyone who violates the country’s rules and regulations regarding the provision of gambling. If the bill passes all the necessary legislative hurdles, it will also implement new rules on how gambling products are advertised in Armenia.

All gambling-related adverts will have to target only people who are of legal age to gamble. Television and radio advertisements will only be allowed to air between 10 pm and 6 am. There will be hefty fines for those who fail to comply with the rules.

The proposed new legislation additionally includes provisions that aim to limit the activities of foreign gambling companies on the territory of the country.

Reforms in Armenia’s existing gambling laws have previously been urged by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who has said that a balanced solution was needed and that the proliferation of gambling needs to be discouraged. In comments on the matter, the official has also addressed the growing number of gambling devices and their impact on communities, saying:

“It is obvious that those incomprehensible devices installed at gas stations are the cause of a major problem not only in rural communities. It is a serious problem, and they just need to be removed. It is crucial to organize this process carefully so that the problem is solved in a comprehensive manner.”

The Prime Minister has pointed out that if gambling indeed plays an important role in Armenia’s economy, as the case seems to be, this is a huge problem for a country with a poverty index standing at 30%.

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