How to promote online betting and gambling in Azerbaijan?

Publication date: 29 May 2023

There is an interesting situation with gambling in Azerbaijan. Online casinos are prohibited by law, and state accreditation is required to open a betting shop. In the new 3SNET review, we have gathered all the details on how to effectively promote online betting and gambling in Azerbaijan. 

What is the regulation of online betting and gambling in Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan’s gambling legislation is rather confusing: something is spelled out in as much detail as possible; something is not mentioned at all. 

How is online gambling regulated in Azerbaijan?

There is no direct ban on land-based and online gambling in Azerbaijan. The activity of online casinos in Azerbaijan is mentioned only in various related “prohibitive” laws: penalties for organizing and conducting gambling, ban on advertising, requirement to limit the operation of offshore sites. 

How is online betting regulated in Azerbaijan? 

In 2017, a new Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Physical Education and Sports was approved. It defines “sports betting games” and “sweepstakes operator”.

According to Article 53 “Organization and conduct of sports betting”, sports betting games are conducted by a legal entity (“sports betting operator”) that is accredited by the relevant executive authority.

However, two other documents regulating betting in Azerbaijan were “inherited” from the previous law and approved in 2010:

  • Regulations on accreditation of a legal entity for the purpose of conducting sports betting;
  • Regulations on organizing and conducting sports betting.

According to the “Regulation…”, accreditation of legal entities for accepting sports bets is carried out by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Azerbaijan. 

  • To receive accreditation a legal entity should: 
  • Provide documents in the Azerbaijani language and have state registration;
  • Have an employee or founder with 3 years of experience in the organization of the reception of sports bets; 
  • Be technically equipped to accept sports bets;
  • Have 5 million manat for guarantee.

The cost of accreditation is 2,000 manat (about $1,200 USD).

The “Rules of Organization …” describe in detail not only all the basic concepts, general conditions of the game, the rights and obligations of the operator, but also the rules of betting on football, basketball and F1 races. 

As of* May 2023, only Topaz (a legal entity of JSC Caspiantech) is a legal betting company in Azerbaijan. Its website lists bets on all traditional sports (football, basketball, tennis, hockey), esports and greyhound racing.  Nevertheless, the betting company offers to place a bet either at one of its land-based betting shops or via an app. The website of Azeri bookmaker Topaz prevents you from registering and making a deposit.

*Data from open sources, as well as the sports operator’s website itself. There is no information on the official resources of Azerbaijan about the accreditation of gambling operators. 

Azerbaijan How to promote online betting gambling rewievs games 3snet en

Illegal organization of online casinos and betting companies is a criminal offence in Azerbaijan. 

According to the Criminal Code article 244-1 “Organization or conduct of gambling”, the fine amounts to: 

  • for individuals  ¾ 5 thousand manat (about 3 thousand U.S. dollars),
  • for officials ¾ 10 thousand manat (about 5,900 U.S. dollars),
  • for legal entities ¾ 50,000 manat (about 29,400 U.S. dollars).

Confiscation of gambling equipment and income is also envisaged.

How are gambling and betting websites blocked in Azerbaijan?

In December 2021, the Milli Majlis (Parliament of Azerbaijan) adopted amendments to the Law on Telecommunications. According to the new legislation, the obligation to control and block illegal bookmaker and casino sites lies with internet operators. They are responsible for restricting access “to the virtual environment in the country to foreign lottery organizers and sports betting operators”.  The procedure for adopting specific restrictive measures is still unknown.

Immediately after the adoption of the amendments, IT expert Osman Gündüz expressed* his opinion: “The notion of a complete ban on the Internet is relative. Of course, there will be those who wish to use some workarounds, but this is fraught with risks”.

*According to Sputnik Azerbaijan.

Here are two more facts from the local media* confirming that gambling is freely available to residents of Azerbaijan.

  • In May 2023, “a resident of Ganja was attracted by an advertisement for an online game on her phone so she decided to increase the amount available. Sh. Akhmedova admitted that it was the winning of 12 manats that motivated her to play. Afterwards, believing that she had found a source of easy income, the woman started making online payments to participate in the game.”
  • In April 2023, “the Interior Ministry commented on the information spread on social networks that students were gambling in a school located in Mingachevir.”

*Published by Media.AZ.

In January 2022, 1news.az correspondents conducted an investigation and found out that 1xBet and Mostbet bookmakers are especially popular among the players from Azerbaijan. Although these BCs are illegal on the territory of this country, the players interviewed claimed that they “did not face any problems”. Furthermore, one of the players revealed that “Illegal betting shops in Azerbaijan have their own people, operators, who correspond with customers and communicate with them when problems arise.”

How much money is made from gambling in Azerbaijan?

Legitimate betting shops in Azerbaijan must pay taxes and transfer part of their profits to the development of sports. 

In the summer of 2022, a new procedure was established for bookmakers to transfer to the development of sports and physical education in Azerbaijan:

  • if the bookmaker’s total turnover does not exceed AZN 100 million ($58.8 million) a year, the number of targeted deductions is 1% of the turnover.
  • if the BC earns more than AZN 100 million a year, the deductions will be 2.5%.

Sports betting operators are also subject to a simplified tax of 6% of turnover.

Individuals must pay income tax if they win more than AZN 500 (14% for the amount of income up to AZN 2,500 and 25% exceeding AZN 2,500 per month).

Since Azerbaijani legislation on gambling and betting is ambiguous, it can be assumed that large sums are earned in the grey sector. For example, according to media reports* a criminal case on organization of illegal gambling in Baku and Absheron district was completed in April 2023. In 5 years (from 2017 to 2022) participants of one group alone earned 2 million 927 thousand manats (about $1.7 million) from illegal betting and casino games. 

*Report news agency

What is the right way to advertise betting and gambling in Azerbaijan

Since April 2022, the “List of Goods Banned for Advertising” in Azerbaijan includes “gambling, as well as suspended, cancelled or duly banned sports betting and lotteries”. 

The local Law on Advertising prohibits advertising specifically for illegal gambling: “advertising of sports gambling which is prohibited by the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Physical Education and Sports is not allowed, i.e. bookmaker’s offices without a license”.

For bookmakers who have received accreditation and operate legally in Azerbaijan, Article 32 “Advertising of Sports Gambling, Lotteries” applies. It contains a number of prohibitions:

  • it is prohibited to address minors;
  • it is prohibited to form the opinion that participation in games can be used as a means to gain prestige in society;
  • it is prohibited to give guarantees of earnings from games and lotteries;
  • it is prohibited to provide information related to increasing the probability of winning one of the parties in a sports competition.

The target audience in Azerbaijan: how to attract it? 

The Republic of Azerbaijan is located in Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. Its population is around 10 million. The biggest cities are the capital city of Baku, Ganja, Sumqayit, Mingechevir.

Gambling and betting in other CIS countries: 

Azerbaijan is a secular state, but about 97% of the residents are Muslim. 

The official language is Azerbaijani. 

The national currency is the Azerbaijani manat (AZN).

What sports are popular in Azerbaijan?

  • Chovgan has ancient roots and is considered a national sport by the people of Azerbaijan. It is an equestrian sports team game, similar to horse polo.  In 2013, the game on the Karabakh horses was included in the UNESCO list of intangible heritage. 
  • Football has been a favourite sport in Azerbaijan for decades. The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) arranges the national championship, national cup, supercup and national team games. 
  • Chess is extremely popular in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani sportsmen constantly participate and win prizes in competitions of different levels.  In the summer of 2023 (July 29-August 26) Baku will host the Chess World Cup.
  • Sports, artistic, acrobatic and rhythmic gymnastics. Only in 2023 Azerbaijan hosted Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, Artistic Gymnastics World Cup, Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup Series and Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships.
  • Azerbaijan will host two World Shooting Championships in 2023! The Shooting World Cup Rifle/Pistol will be held from 14 August to 3 September, while the World Pistol Shooting Championship will be held from 4 to 15 August.
  • Beach sports: football, handball and volleyball.

What means of payment are available in Azerbaijan? 

In January 2022, the possibility to pay for bets on bookmaker, casino and betting sites using bank cards issued in Azerbaijan was prohibited. The country’s banks have been advised to comply with the law and monitor online payments.

It is possible to pay and receive money on KoronaPay and Contact cards. WebMoney, Qiwi, Wallet One P Wallet is available to residents of Azerbaijan. Skrill is also available. Neteller works with the residents of Azerbaijan, but does not issue MasterCard for them.

Cryptocurrencies are not legally regulated in Azerbaijan; citizens must pay taxes as on ordinary income. 

Creatives for Azerbaijan: cultural peculiarities

  • Azerbaijan is a country with a very developed culture, which has given the world masterpieces of music, literature and architecture. The locals are very proud of their national heroes and are happy to see them in any promotional material. 
  • The main symbols of wealth are the ram and the saddled horse. Other national symbols that inspire respect and symbolize wealth are tea and carpets. 
  • The country is secular, but the feelings of the religious part of the population must be respected. Islamic, Jewish or Christian values should not be trifled with! 
  • In addition to general holidays (New Year’s Day, International Women’s Day, 9 May), public holidays include Independence Day / Republic Day (28 May), National Salvation Day (15 June), Day of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan (26 June), Victory Day (8 November), National Flag Day (9 November) and International Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis (31 December). Religious holidays include Nowruz, Ramadan, and Gurban. As a reminder, the player activity decreases during religious holidays, and it increases during secular holidays. 

Which traffic sources are popular in Azerbaijan?

At the end of 2021, Internet penetration in Azerbaijan is 85% of the population. The state-owned Aztelecom and Bakinternet providers have the largest market share. Another 40 providers (Azeronline, Baktelecom, Delta Telekom, AzerTelecom and others) also provide communications services. According to cable.co.uk, Internet access in Azerbaijan is relatively inexpensive, averaging $15 per month.

The official domain name is .az. The cost of registering a national domain is AZN 20 ( $11.8).

Azerbaijan has a history of total blocking of social networks and messengers. For example, in September 2020, during the escalation of the military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, access to Facebook* and Instagram*, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype was banned in the country. All blockages have now been lifted, with some sites blocked due to fraud attempts. 

According to DataReportal service, at the beginning of 2023 in Azerbaijan, there were: 

  • 8.93 million internet users, 86% internet penetration.
  • 4.15 million social network users, representing 40% of the total population.
  • 11.92 million mobile phone subscribers, equivalent to 114.8% of the total population.

The same service provides interesting statistics on the audiences of the various social networks (all data for April 2023): 

  • Facebook* with 1.5 million users in Azerbaijan, equivalent to 14.4% of the total population. 32.9% of Facebook’s advertising audience are women and 67.1% are men.
  • Instagram* has 3,25 million users or 31,3% of total population. 40% of advertising audience are females, 60% are males.
  • LinkedIn has 670 thousand “subscribers” in Azerbaijan, which is 6.5% of the total population. Of those, 37.1% are women and 62.9% are men.
  • The number of Twitter users is 304.5 thousand, or 2.9% of the total population. 33.4% are women and 66.6% are men.

According to StatCounter, in April 2023:

  • most popular browsers: Chrome – 76.4%, Safari – 11.56%, Samsung Internet – 5.17%, Opera – 2.73%.
  • most popular search engines: Google – 92.2%, Yandex – 6.38%, Bing – 0.65%, Yahoo! – 0.28%, Petal Search – 0.27% and DuckDuckGo – 0.13%.
  • most popular social networks: Instagram* – 38.24%, Facebook* – 26.1%, Pinterest – 13.78%, YouTube – 12.15%, Twitter – 6.69%, Reddit – 0.9%.
  • mobile 63.67%, desktop 35.13%.

*Facebook and Instagram are owned by Meta, a corporation deemed extremist in Russia. Access is banned by court order.

Development prospects for betting and gambling in Azerbaijan

In December 2021, when the Milli Majlis approved several major amendments to combat gambling in Azerbaijan, an alternative view was expressed. “I propose to legalize casinos. …For example, we can allow casinos in Karabakh, thereby attracting tourists to the region. On the other hand, we can open it on Nargin Island (Boyuk Zira),” said Gudrat Hasanguliyev, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee for legal policy and state building.

On 24 May 2023, the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan proposed to toughen measures against the organization of illegal gambling. “The issue is the widespread offer of gambling games on websites, social networks. Some of these games are registered abroad and I believe that national legislation will introduce restrictions in this regard in the near future,” First Deputy Economy Minister Elnur Aliyev stated. The official did not specify what exactly the changes to the legislation are about. 

Azerbaijan’s gambling market is poorly developed. Although the first steps to legalize it were made nearly 13 years ago, rapid development has not happened. It is strange that while gambling is officially allowed, with very loyal conditions of entry to the market, only one bookmaker’s office is sluggishly operating in the country. Efforts to block offshore platforms are visible only in documents, in real life anyone can get access to the website of any casino or betting company.  But as we know, if there is a demand, there is always a supply!  Therefore, 3SNET network has prepared a list of offers, where quality betting and gambling traffic from Azerbaijan is expected! So, it’s time to get connected and make money!

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