Tuesday, July 06, 2004

What happens when you take a casino and place it next to an army base? I’m not sure yet, but I guess we will soon find out.

Talking with some soldiers who are serving in the army, there seems to already be a gambling problem on our bases, which have some of our young boys calling home to have money sent to cover their losses. Now with a casino within spitting distance of one of our larger bases, recruits and their parents are going to facing some new challenges.

So why the new casino? Well, the time is nearing that casinos in Stepanagert have to close and I guess this is one of the casino owner’s alternative location “away from the city”. If you consider this base, it is practically the size of a small city and on weekends, will certainly be a welcome alternative to many soldiers that would usually make their way to Stepanagert for some much needed R&R.

There are many locals that are not happy with this new development, including the Foreign Minister, who I met with today on an unrelated matter. All he could do is shake his head and agree that we will soon be facing some problems that we really don’t need.

If you ask me, gambling should be banned from Artsakh and Armenia all together, as economically deprived persons for the most part don’t gamble for the sake of gaming, but do so in hopes of pulling themselves out of poverty. In addition to this, gambling is contrary to Armenian-Christian values, not that this should determine if we do or don’t allow gambling here.

When I photographed the casino with the army base in the background, the man overseeing the construction asked me what I was photographing as he frantically approached me. I didn’t answer his question and instead asked when the casino would be opening? He told me in the next couple of days.

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