In common with most of the states that came out of the ex-Soviet Union and that are now in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Armenia and Armenians took readily to casinos and gambling in general.
Again, in common with their fellow states in the CIS, there had been a thriving underground, or illegal, gambling scene before the breakup. This was all a part of the almost insanely large black market or illegal economy that existed. As this economy exclusively (and necessarily) worked in cash, you can imagine that there were a lot of people around with large sums burning a hole in their pockets.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, many of these businesses became legal, as did many of the casinos, bars, and nightclubs where the money had previously been spent. Armenia’s casinos may not be in the same locations that they were, but they are run by very much the same people as before and fulfill the same social function. They are places for the rich to show how rich they are, by eating and drinking extravagantly and gambling prodigiously. It can almost seem that the more expensive a drink, (and the more expensive it is known to be) and the more money is lost while still smiling, the better: which is true to a point, for they are more about showing off wealth to an adoring crowd than they are about playing games of skill.
As such, Armenia’s casinos might be more interesting as part of an anthropological expedition than a vacation destination.
A list of Armenia’s casinos includes:
Argavand: Pharaon Casino and Joy Casino
Parakar: National Casino
Parakar-Thairov: Blue Diamond Casino
The National Casino has four gaming tables and slot and video machines, as well. The Blue Diamond Casino has 18 table games in total and a further 45 slot and poker machines.
Armenia has also been either at war or in a state of near war with neighboring Azerbaijan since the breakup of the Soviet Union. There is an enclave of each country within the other that they are fighting over: Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakichevan. It’s not important to remember which is which, as even the locals can become confused on the subject and why each is so important. At times, the various pieces of fighting have led to embargoes on border crossings and so on, not just between the two countries, but with neighboring ones, as well.
Armenia’s casinos may indeed be interesting but there are easier places to go to for a decent gambling game.