Blanket ban looms on Armenian Gambling as MPs back advertising reforms

Stringent gambling reforms of Armenia’s Law on Advertising appear to be imminent as Parliament has unanimously voted in favour of the first reading of amendments proposed by the republic’s Minister of Finance Armen Hayrapetyan.

Casting preliminary votes last week 56 MPs (versus 8-against) voted in favour of amendments put forward by Hayrapetyan to reform Armenia’s federal advertising laws, enforcing strict requirements as to where gambling ads can be displayed to the public.

Leading the Ministry of Finance that serves as Armenian gambling’s licensing authority, Hayrapetyan has instructed Armenia’s government to enforce gambling sector restrictions that mirror those imposed by Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Georgia.

Preliminary hearings clarified new measures that will see gambling advertisements blanket banned across all media formats, including television, online, radio and press.

Amendments will see gambling advertisements solely allowed within the premises of four-star and above hotels, border checkpoints and ‘in the front of buildings carrying out the similar business activities’.

Addressing Parliament, Hayrapetyan pointed to a study undertaken by the State Revenue Committee that outlined that Armenia’s gambling sector had tripled in size since 2018, with wagering volumes well above its neighbouring states.

“Compared to international trends, we have realized that our field is developing very fast and the risk of gambling is increasing. In the UK, for example, one in six players becomes a gambler… our index is six times higher,” Hayrapetyan told Parliament

Reforms on Advertising had been formally approved by a Standing Committee on Economic Affairs, that granted Hayrapetyan the right to amend federal laws as the Ministry of Finance required “common policies” to govern the gambling sector – which had not been granted under Armenia’s existing fragmented framework.

Despite its approval, the Standing Committee recommended that lawmakers acknowledge the concerns of national advertising and media networks  who are reported to generate between 60-70% from online gambling and lottery businesses – an order that was not carried during preliminary hearings.

Securing its preliminary approval, Hayrapetyan amendments will be put forward to a final vote by Armenia’s National Council with date to be confirmed in the coming days.

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