Betting and gaming operators in Armenia can expect the payment options available to them to be significantly restricted following a legislative decision.
The Bill passed with a total of vote count of 67 and the law will come into effect in 10 days, prohibiting cash payments for gambling.
After six months, bettors will be unable to conduct transactions via electronic cash and payment terminals, after which gambling payments will only be available via card, with winnings also paid out via this non-cash method.
The legislation was drafted by MPs Tsovinar Vardanyan and Gevorg Papoyan, members of the governing CIvil Contract party, who cited social responsibility concerns.
Local media reported Papoyan as saying: “With this bill we will significantly limit the ability of citizens to make easy bets.” The MP also stated that the government intended to address social welfare, health and education issues.
A ban on cash gambling has been in the political pipeline in Armenia for several months, with legislators asserting that the ban would protect vulnerable people in the country.
Addressing the Armenian Parliament in support of the ban last month, Papoyan said: “The main target of the bill is citizens who are socially vulnerable but at the same time have gambling addiction, which worsens their social condition.
“If the law takes effect, the cash option will be banned. Then, after six months, the e-money option will also be banned, leaving only the bank transaction, meaning the non-cash payment option.”
The passage of the legislation comes as Armenian authorities take an increasingly confrontational stance against the gambling industry, which has so far predominantly focused on advertising.
Similarly to the recent payment legislation, Finance Minister Armen Hayrapetyan’s amendments to the nation’s advertising law passed through parliament by a large majority – 56 MPs voted in favour versus eight against.
The legislation will impose greater restrictions on operators’ marketing abilities, prohibiting internet advertising and restricting adverts to ‘the premises of four-star and above hotels, border checkpoints and ‘in the front of buildings carrying out the similar business activities’.
Armenia’s oversight of gambling advertising has now been brought in line with the stringent regulations in other countries, including fellow CIS region country Georgia as well as Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.
Lastly, a separate law has also seen an enhancement of age verification laws at casinos – under previous legislation, anyone under the age of 21 was able to enter casinos and gamble but the businesses themselves were not required to verify this.
This has now been changed, with venues required to conduct and enforce age verification checks on anyone wishing to enter their premises.