Casino gambling is totally legal in Armenia, but some casinos are at a bit of advantage over the others.
There are eight large casinos operating in full compliance with Armenian gambling laws, including Flamingo, Shangri-La, Senator, and others. However, the biggest of them is Pharaoh, which is looking to rule the gambling business in the country.
Pharaoh Casino is owned by Garik Tsarukyan, the leader of “Blossoming Armenia” political party. Pharaoh was built to attract mostly foreign gamblers rather than local population. The casino management is catering to guests from China, Russia, and other countries where gambling is limited or prohibited.
Armenia is especially popular with gambling tourists from Russia, where gambling establishments were allowed to exist only in four quite remote regions. Russians also like to combine gambling visits to Armenia with recreational ones. Tsaghkadzor is a popular skiing destination, which also has big casinos in luxurious hotels.
Foreign gambling tourists in Pharaoh Casino
Pharaoh Casino has set a minimum package for foreign gambling tourists: $25,000. The figure might seem big, but it’s an all-inclusive deal consisting of a transfer from gambler’s country, accommodation, food, a long list of entertainment programs, and, naturally, some chips to play with. Such deals are not a unique feature, and some Western casinos are practicing the same approach when it comes to wealthy gamers.
Pharaoh’s gambling offers include the usual classic table games: roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat, poker, video poker, and a wide range of slot machines. Naturally, there are VIP rooms for high-rollers, and there are some “local” games as well.
Pharaoh Casino is targeting foreigners for a very simple reason: majority of the country’s population cannot afford to play at either land-based or online casinos in Armenia. Thus catering to local gamers is just not economically feasible.
From the beginning of last year, an amended gambling law went into effect in Armenia. According to the new law, casinos operating in Erevan’s vicinity (which is the case of Pharaoh), need to be approved by the government and can only be run by businesses wishing to invest $100 million.
Not every casino operator can shell out $100 mil on a casino and have it approved by the government. However, Tsarukyan can, and this is just what he did with Pharaoh. The hotel-casino complex has been completed and welcomes gamers from around the world. Tsarukyan is hoping to return his investment in less than 10 years.