In this piece, we’ll take a deep dive into Armenia’s gaming scene. We’ll fill you in on the history of gambling in the country, and discuss the legalities of different games. We’ll sift through a list of the best online casinos in Armenia, and let you in on our secret recipe for picking a good casino. We’ll explore the main bonuses available to Armenian players, and put together a list of the most popular payment methods. We’ll put a special spotlight on sports betting, lotteries, and poker. And of course, we won’t forget about the renowned land-based casinos in Armenia.
Best Online Casinos For Armenian People
Online casinos are legal on Armenian turf, which means that Armenian players have a ton of local and foreign joints to choose from.
But with so many options, it’s easy to lose your bearings. To keep you from going off track, we recommend you check out our list of the best online casinos. And just below, get to grips with our method for picking a top-notch gaming venue.
Gambling got its start in the late 20th century. With the fall of the USSR and Armenia gaining independence, a more laid-back attitude towards gambling emerged, which had been outright banned before.
With the implementation of the “Profit Tax” in 1991, various land-based establishments began to officially open across the country. They were primarily casinos and bookmakers taking sports bets.
However, this “unregulated” life of the gambling business didn’t last long. By the early 2000s, the president of Armenia signed the “On Prize Games and Gaming Houses” law. It contained rules regarding the minimum size of establishments and set geographical and age restrictions.
In 2008, another important bill was passed that forced all land-based casinos to move towards resort regions (Jermuk, Sevan, Tsakhkadzor). However, casinos still had the opportunity to open within major cities. But the price tag? A whopping $100 million for a license.
Legality and regulation of gambling
Right now, in Armenia, a truckload of gambling games have been given the green light. This includes slot machines, available in both brick-and-mortar and online casinos, as well as various table/card games. Sports betting is a particular crowd-pleaser, which is also completely legal.
Recently in Armenia, there are 2 fundamental restrictions for the gambling business: there’s a geographic ban on operations within cities (the biggest casino, Shangri La, is a 40 km drive from Yerevan) and a limit on advertising. Other than that, the gambling game is entirely regulated by the state, and it rakes in a significant chunk of change. For instance, an annual license for online operations costs 600,000,000 drams.
For land-based operations (casinos), you’ll have to fork out for a license that ranges from 35 million drams (Megri) to 180 million (Tsakhkadzor). Those who wish to open a casino outside the resort zones will have to cough up an annual fee of 5.5 billion drams.
Choosing the best online casinos in Armenia
In this section, we’d like to drill down on the key aspects to keep in mind when picking an online casino. First things first, always check if the license is present and up to date, and read player reviews. Then, you can examine the bonus policy and verify the casino for convenient payment methods. Finally, check the website for mobile compatibility, and gauge the quality of customer support.
Legality and Safety
Since the operation of online casinos is licensed in Armenia, the Ministry of Finance keeps special lists of online casinos that have an official license in Armenia. That’s why we always cross-check with the list when reviewing online casinos in Armenia. Another option is the presence of an international license from various gambling commissions, like MGA, or Curacao.
Getting the lowdown on what players think about a site is a straightforward and reliable way to gauge the establishment you’re dealing with. You can read the reviews of real players on specialized sites or gaming forums. Since Armenians are fluent in Russian, it’s worth checking out the largest Russian-language resources, such as casino.ru/vse-otzyvy-onlajn-kazino or affgambler.ru/reviews.
Bonuses & Promotions
Another key point we factor into our reviews is the casino’s bonus policy. Currently, certain standards have been established in the industry, which can be found in most good establishments. Among them is the welcome package, which covers several initial deposits, or weekly reload bonuses, special VIP systems, and much more. We’ll delve deeper into each type of bonus in the relevant section.
In Armenia, making deposits with bank cards is pretty popular. However, a lot of players also use e-wallets and cryptocurrencies. We always recommend finding out about the availability of convenient payment systems before you register.
Having a 24/7 customer service is another pretty important factor. Not only can you solve any problem that pops up, but you can also find out all the necessary info. For many Armenian players, it’s also key that the support speaks not just Russian, but Armenian as well.
Since many users prefer to play from their mobile phone, the website’s adaptability for smartphones is a key aspect. We always try to check how the site runs on various devices. And this is not just about the games, but also things related to topping up the account/cashing out.
Bonuses and promotions for Armenian players
Players from Armenia have access to all sorts of bonuses. This includes various welcome packages, as well as regular rewards. Ranking systems and tournaments, held by both the providers and the casino itself, are worth a special mention. Next, we’d like to break down the main types of bonuses in more detail.
The best casinos in Armenia offer a deposit boost and a certain number of free spins. Often, it’s not just for one, but for several initial deposits. For instance, at Spinbetter, the welcome package extends to the first 4 deposits:
Regular Player Bonuses
After the welcome bonus is over, you’ll be showered with even more regular bonuses. Among them are weekly reloads and cashbacks, as well as special “wheels of fortune” and interesting VIP systems. For example, at 1xSlots casino, the following bonuses are available:
Loyalty is worth its weight in gold – get +50% and up to 100 free spins on your tenth deposit.
Secret free spins – on Wednesdays, open your profile and find a free gift of free spins.
50% Monday bonus – every Monday you can get a reload bonus that adds 50% to your deposit.
Birthday bonus – once a year you can get a special gift, provided that you’ve verified your profile.
VIP cashback – a special ranking system, consisting of 8 levels. The higher the level, the bigger the refund you get.
Races and Tournaments
Many casinos regularly host various races and tournaments. Anyone can join in and try to win additional rewards just for playing their favorite games. The rules are pretty much the same everywhere – you play slots from the list and perform the target action, getting tournament points for each completed action. The more points, the higher the reward. At Vbet casino, the following tournaments are available:
Up To 500 Free Spins And More – play games from Spinomenal and get free spins.
Cash King – a series of Booongo slot tournaments with a total prize pool of 34 million AMD.
Cash Days – a tournament from Playson with total prizes of 33.5 million AMD.
Sports betting in Armenia
Like other types of gambling entertainment, sports betting is completely legal in Armenia, both offline and online. Armenia is home to the world-renowned betting company Vbet, which enjoys huge popularity in its home country. Since sports betting is extremely popular in Armenia, besides Vbet, you can find such companies as GGbet, Parimatch, MelBet, and many others.
The popularity of sports betting stems from the popularity of sports itself. Many Armenians are involved in amateur sports, and even more people follow professional sports. Therefore, the most popular sports include:
Football – this sport traditionally takes the leading position in the post-Soviet space. During the USSR, Armenia played a prominent role in the national football team, and clubs like “Ararat” regularly participated in the European championship. After the dissolution of the USSR, the Armenian Premier League was created, consisting of 8 teams. This championship is still the most important in Armenia and attracts a large number of viewers each year.
Chess – quite a traditional sport for Armenia. Both the men’s and women’s chess teams regularly show excellent results, winning prestigious championships. Chess players such as Levon Aronian are known worldwide, and thanks to them chess does not lose its popularity.
Weightlifting – Armenian athletes regularly show outstanding results in this sport. Not to mention the European championship in 2007, where Armenia won more than 10 gold medals. Nazik Avdalyan and Tigran Martirosyan have earned an excellent reputation on the world stage, thereby making this sport popular among the masses.
Boxing – a contact sport that has gained high popularity in Armenia. Since the mid-2000s, Armenian boxers regularly participate in European and World tournaments, winning various medals and even belts. The Armenian school of boxing has its roots in the USSR, consequently, it is considered a serious competitor on the world stage.
Wrestling – in Armenia, both “classic” types of wrestling are popular: freestyle and Greco-Roman. The country has many world-class wrestlers, for example, David Safaryan, who won the European Championship in 2013, and then the World Championship, or Arsen Julfalakyan, who won a gold medal at the 2014 Championship.
Convenient payment systems
More often than not, Armenians top up their online casino accounts with bank cards. But this method isn’t everyone’s cup of tea because many folks like to keep their gaming stash separate and aren’t keen on leaving their details on casino or bookie sites. That’s where various e-wallets, or special e-commerce services, come into play for such punters. Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular payment systems.
As mentioned before, using credit/debit cards like ArCa/Visa/MasterCard is the most straightforward and common solution. Quick deposits and easy usage are the big upsides here.
This old-school method is still a go-to for some Armenian punters. Its appeal lies in its simplicity and high reliability. You simply punch in the bank details of the casino and send the dough over. In a couple of days, it lands in your account, and you’re ready to roll.
Armenia has its own interbank payment system – ArCa. With this, you can consolidate multiple accounts into one and use it for online payments. This includes not only local bank accounts but also foreign cards, like Visa/MasterCard/MIR/DCI, and so on.
A decent alternative to banking methods are e-wallets. Setting up an account is a cinch, after which you can top it up, say, with a bank card and use the funds at your discretion, without airing your confidential details. The most popular wallets in Armenia are Skrill, Neteller, Qiwi, WebMoney, Sticpay, and others.
A straightforward and handy way to top up your online casino or bookie account. All you need to do is buy some crypto and send it over to the casino’s address. In 5-10 minutes, you’re all set to play. Same goes for withdrawing funds.
NOTIFY At the moment, Armenia doesn’t have specific legislation regulating the cryptocurrency market. The National Bank of Armenia warns residents against buying cryptocurrencies due to their high risk. However, there’s no outright ban on cryptocurrency activities in the country. This means you’re free to buy or sell crypto, use it for investment purposes, or to deposit in an online casino/bookie.
Popular gambling providers in Armenia
Armenian punters are pretty picky when it comes to choosing game providers. So, top-notch developers that churn out high-quality slots are the crowd-pleasers. Some of these are relatively young, but most have been around the block for quite some time. That’s why we’ve knocked up a quick list of the five most popular providers.
A relatively fresh face on the scene that hit the ground running in 2015. In this short span, they’ve managed to make waves not only in Armenia but around the globe. They owe it all to their talented team of developers and their cutting-edge approach.
One of the old dogs in the game who’s really played up the tantalizing jackpot mechanics. Their games offer both spontaneous progressive jackpots as well as mechanics that kick in after a certain number of special symbols drop. High potential for big paydays is what has the Armenian gamers head over heels for this provider.
A well-known developer of brick-and-mortar slot machines who’s recently taken a crack at the online market. Many gamers have taken a shine to online versions of their favorite terrestrial slots, as well as exclusive games designed specifically for online casinos.
Another one of the grizzled veterans from Sweden who’ve focused on cranking out one-of-a-kind products and even entire game series. Slots like Gonzo’s Quest have become household names, with entire game shows built around them.
A unique developer with a signature slot design. They’ve focused on designing games with medium volatility that make use of a wide range of familiar mechanics.
Land-based casinos in Armenia
Land-based gambling has been legal in Armenia since the early ’90s. Since then, several key laws have been passed, and principles have been established for creating a casino and conducting games therein. Among them is a formal ban on casino operations within cities (the ban is formal because setting up a casino within city limits requires an expensive license, the cost of which exceeds 5.5 billion AMD), and a fixed annual levy for owning a gambling establishment. As a result, most casinos are located outside the city, often in resort areas. The cost of the license, and consequently, the size of the establishment, varies based on the geographic location.
The largest land-based casino is the Shangri La, located at 8 Olympiakan Street, Tsaghkadzor, which is a 40-minute drive from Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. The gaming arsenal of this establishment is pretty hefty, featuring loads of slot machines with bets ranging from 1 to 100 AMD, dozens of tables for roulette, blackjack, various types of poker, and some other games.
For high rollers, there’s the “X.O.” VIP club, which offers secluded gaming and high-stake bets. Aside from the high stakes, you can expect a special level of service and an even more comfortable atmosphere.
In addition to the gaming halls, Shangri La has a concert stage where musical bands perform and various shows are held, as well as a restaurant serving local and Italian cuisines.
Armenia also has several smaller casinos like the Senator or Royale Casino. Their gaming assortment is relatively modest, typically including several dozen slot machines and tables for tabletop and card games.
Lotteries and other gambling entertainment in Armenia
The lottery game in Armenia hit the ground running in 1999. That’s when the national lottery Inter Lotto (Արմենիա Լոթեռի) first rolled the dice. Interestingly, there’s no specific law for this type of gamble. So, the folks running the show play by the 2003 gambling law. In theory, you could join the action online, but in reality, that option’s as rare as hen’s teeth. Most lottery tickets are sold the old-fashioned way, at dedicated kiosks or supermarket counters. A ticket usually sets you back anywhere from 100 to 500 AMD, and the pot can swell over 5 million AMD. But cash isn’t the only loot on the line. We’re talking home appliances, cars, apartments, even gold bullion.
Instant lotteries are the cat’s pajamas. You buy a physical ticket and scratch off the protective fields. What’s under those fields decides whether you hit the jackpot or bust. On a side note, text message lotteries used to be the bee’s knees in Armenia, with daily draws. Anyone over 18 with a mobile phone and a SIM card could get in on the action. All it took was texting five digits to a special number and getting your registration code. If 2 or more of your digits matched, you’d walk away with a prize, claimable with your registration code. Texts cost a flat 200 AMD, and the prize pool was 50% of the cash in play. Because of its popularity, this lottery drew a ton of viewers, so the stakes were high.
Poker’s another high roller in Armenia. Like most gambling games, it doesn’t have a rulebook of its own. The powers that be refer to the general gambling law, so anyone can play live poker in any Armenian casino. There’s also a decent number of underground poker clubs running without a license. But we’d tell you to steer clear of those joints. Their games aren’t always on the up-and-up, and they’re often targeted in police raids. Online poker’s a good alternative to brick-and-mortar games. It flies under the radar of the authorities, who turn a blind eye to offshore poker rooms. As a result, Armenian players are welcomed with open arms at poker rooms like PokerStars, 888Poker, GGPokerok, PartyPoker, and others.
Reliability and safety of online casinos in Armenia
Online gamblers in Armenia are under the watchful eye of Uncle Sam. Many online casinos have a government license, issued by the Finance Ministry, meaning they’re on the straight and narrow, with no funny business allowed. If a player gets taken for a ride, they can always cry foul to the Finance Ministry, who’ll step in to settle the score. That’s why it’s rare for a licensed casino to pull a fast one on a player – they’d be risking their license.
But some casinos prefer to play it fast and loose, operating without an Armenian license and only using an international one from MGA/Curacao. This may leave players scratching their heads, wondering “What do I do if an offshore casino double-crosses me?”. Well, we’ve got an answer for that, too: reach out to the relevant commission via their website or email, spill the beans about what happened, and they’ll get back to you in a couple of weeks. If the casino really broke the rules, they’ll come down on them like a ton of bricks, resolving the dispute in your favor.
To sum it up, since gaining its independence, Armenia made a smart move by deciding to regulate gambling instead of outlawing it. As a result, several decades down the line, they’ve got a bustling market, with online casinos and brick-and-mortar joints alike dealing cards. The same goes for sports betting and various lotteries. These forms of gambling attract a steady stream of tourists each year and pump a nice chunk of change into the country’s coffers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any land-based casinos in Armenia?
Yes, there are a large number of casinos in Armenia, located mainly in tourist areas. The largest of them is the international chain Shangri La.
Are online casinos legal in Armenia?
The country has its own license for online activities. It can be acquired by any willing site. As a consequence, those establishments that have the appropriate license are legal in Armenia.
What is the situation with sports betting in Armenia?
Betting on sports is legal both in person and online. The largest bookmaker based in Armenia is Vbet.
Is online poker legal?
There is no separate legislation for online poker, as a consequence it is in the “gray area”. Nevertheless, the authorities of the country do not hinder the activity of foreign poker rooms.
Are there lotteries in Armenia?
In Armenia there are often various private lotteries. This happens because, unlike other countries, in Armenia the right to organize lotteries does not belong to the state. The largest “National” lottery is Արմենիա Լոթերի.