Gambling in Armenia
Gambling business in Armenia dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Back in 1936 Armenia became an independent Soviet Republic, and the only legal gambling activities in the country were limited to horseracing betting and the State lottery. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia truly entered the gambling business with the first gaming halls opening up in 1990, and the first casino in 1991.
Currently, Armenia has a vast amount of gambling establishments including bingo halls, betting shops, casinos, and others. They all operate based on licenses issued by the Armenian Ministry of Finance. One of the leading gambling companies is “Vivaro Betting”, founded in 2008. Other market players include Totto, Gudwin-Bet, and Intanekan Loto.
2011 saw the creation of the first SMS-lotteries: Optima and OptimaPlus. Their operators say that these lotteries are fully transparent thanks to the fact that all participant’s bets can be seen even before the draw, which is televised live on Armenian state TV.
At the end of 2012, the Armenian Parliament passed a draft law stating that, starting from January 2013, all casinos in the country must move to tourist destinations such as Jermuk, Tsaghkadzor, and Sevan, among others. The draft law met with heavy opposition from the gambling operators, and the Parliament decided to postpone the implementation to 2014.
Online Gambling in Armenia
The Armenian government does not currently give out licenses to the country’s companies looking to develop and operate online gambling facilities. This means that the only places where Armenians can enjoy online gaming activities are the foreign-based sites.
Since most of the Armenian population speaks Russian, they can indulge in online gambling at a variety of off-shore based sites offering their services in Russian language. Naturally, foreign sites available in other languages are also popular with Armenian gamers.
Mobile gambling is also gaining popularity with Armenian population, as mobile device penetration has already reached 65% and is still growing rapidly.