Armenia has dedicated the past weeks to mulling over considerable changes to its gambling regulations aiming to bring more to the field and introduce a higher level of protection to players experiencing problem gambling tendencies. Thursday saw a Cabinet meeting featuring a discussion regarding potential changes introduced to the existing regulation on lotteries, as well as on online and brick-and-mortar gambling offerings.
The gaming field and its wide array of offerings could soon be subjected to improvements, but it is all in its early stages for the time being. The said previously proposed amendments to the previously proposed laws in the Republic of Armenia directly affecting gaming offerings should be further discussed and change should be introduced where needed. During the meeting, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that the introduced proposal on amending would go through the mandatory further discussion.
What Triggers the Discussion?
One of the main concerns coming from the potential amendment relates to the job market within the casino field. According to the proposed draft that was passed at the end of 2012, gaming offerings to the liking of betting and gaming machines currently located in gas stations across the country had to be relocated to more popular tourist areas of the country. Such locations are the Tsaghkadzor, Sevan, and Jermuk communities, all enjoying the attention of foreign tourists.
This move was considered in an attempt to draw tourists from both neighboring and other countries, willing to gamble and thus boost the local economy. Back when it was first introduced to the public, this draft met the cold attitude of the opposition, eventually leading to its postponing. Now the Prime Minister once again voiced the popular opinion that this amendment has the capacity to change the lives of many people currently working in the industry.
Since it demands the relocation of gaming offerings, the overall number of jobs would have to be significantly reduced. What should be done in this situation, involves the careful consideration and the eventual introduction in several phases. This would guarantee a smooth transition towards the eyed improvement since the Prime Minister made it clear that the measure has its positive features as well. Problem gambling has been an issue which needs proper treatment, an issue pinpointed by the authorities in the past.
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Its devastating impact on the community could be already seen, as the economy witnesses an impressive growth stemming from gambling individuals struggling to maintain control over their gaming habits on a day to day basis. The easily accessible gaming offerings have been more than tempting to Armenia’s youth as well as players from all age groups, leading to their worsened financial state and subsequently poverty spread across some 30 percent of the population.
Priorities when it comes to the economic structure should be considerably rearranged, making way to more high-tech manufacturing and information technology, shifting the focus from its current predominantly agrarian direction of development.
Measures Taken towards Battling Problem Gambling
Actions are being taken at the moment, as it was recently confirmed that the advertisement of gaming activities on TV and radio would be allowed only after midnight. In order to prevent minors from participating in gambling, said ads would have to be strictly targeting individuals over 21 years of age.
They should also amount to less than 4 minutes, as to avoid occupying a large part of the television and radio schedule. For operators trespassing the law with their promotional material, there are fines established, reaching some AMD1 million (approximately US$2,067). This amendment to the 2014 draft provision aligns with another decision approved at the beginning of this month.
According to it, from here on out brick-and-mortar casino venues would be obliged to demand identification of any customer entering the facility, in order to prevent people below the age of 21 from entering. For those casino developers who fail to meet the new regulations, penalties are introduced. They amount to some AMD300,000 (approximately US$626.84). Upcoming weeks are set to bring more discussions related to the amendments.