Armenia: Bill Restricting Gambling Advertising Gets Traction

Last week, lawmakers from the Republic of Armenia announced a proposal that calls for significant changes to the laws related to gambling advertising in the country. Now, after only a week, the proposal is getting traction and was debated during its first reading on January 20.

Lawmakers Approve a Proposal Restricting Gambling Advertising

Despite some opposition, members of the parliament in Armenia approved the draft proposal in its first reading on Friday this week, the PanArmenian revealed. A total of 80 MPs had the option to participate in the voting of the draft bill that proposes to restrict gambling advertising. Some 56 MPs voted in favor of the proposal, while 8 voted against it. Another 16 MPs abstained from voting.

The bill proposes to change the way gambling companies advertise in the country, introducing significant restrictions. Under the proposal, gambling advertising would be restricted to hotels that are 4-stars or higher. Other places where gambling advertising would be permitted would be border checkpoints as well as buildings that offer gambling entertainment. But the new bill prohibits gambling advertising in any other places.

Industry Continues to Grow, Restrictions Grow as Well

Key rapporteur, RA Minister of Finance Armen Hayrapetyan, explained that the proposal follows a similar legal frame already adopted by countries such as the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia and Georgia. While advertising agents have voiced concerns that some 60%-70% of their income is generated by online games and lotteries, Hayrapetyan rejected those claims. According to him, only 20%-25% of the income of advertising companies comes from gambling operators.

Tsovinar Vardanyan, a member of the RA NA Standing (Head) Committee on Economic Affairs showed support for the bill that aims to restrict gambling advertising. In a recent statement, she outlined back in 2020, there have been some 1.9 trillion bets made in Armenia. In contrast, that number skyrocketed in 2021 as the number of bets increased nearly 1.5 times.

Restricting gambling advertising isn’t Armenia’s first effort against the growing industry in the country. Back in 2018, lawmakers changed the gambling age restriction, raising it from 18 to 21. Moreover, again in 2018, the government restricted gambling advertising to the hours between 10 pm and 6 am. The operators must also ensure to target their ads specifically for audiences that are age 21 or older.