Georgia toughens up gambling laws

Posted: Mar 29, 2023 10:33 Category: Casino, Europe, Online, Regulatory, Posted by Lea Hogg

The Government of Georgia has introduced reforms this month to ban 1.45 million citizens from gambling. This was revealed by the Minister of Finance of Georgia, Lasha Khutsishvili during a regular government update on market developments.

Last year the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili approved a new reform prohibiting persons under the age of 25 from all land-based and online gambling activity. He explained that this was an initiative to help socially vulnerable segments of the community, people who are bankrupt or blacklisted and individuals who are self-restricting because of gambling addiction. The new bill will also ban civil servants from gambling. The current law excludes foreigners living in Georgia who are permitted to play if they are over 18. The Caucasus nation needed to secure its ‘European Council 12-point conditions‘ to gain EU candidate status and to raise awareness of its fight against organised crime and this was why the gambling bank was tightened.

Gambling advertising across all media and platforms was restricted and a tax increase on gambling was imposed to between 65 to 70 percent.

The new reforms proposed by Minister Khutsishvili will be passed through Parliament to further tighten gambling regulations. It is envisaged that the new ban will be very tough and proposed changes include restrictions for ship-based casinos too. The Minister reiterated that the Government will continue its commitment to address the gambling industry’s challenges in order to align its policies with the European Union’s expectations.

Online gaming

It is envisaged that the ban will be enforced by 1 April 2023. The changes come after last year’s already-strict gambling regulations which prohibited gambling advertising on TV, external platforms and Georgian websites. Operators will possibly be allowed to sign sponsorship contracts, mainly in sports.

A number of civil societies that make up the lobby group Media Advocacy Coalition (MAC) have been objecting to the further restrictions especially those related to advertising. They claim that research was not thorough enough and was not particularly because not supported by assessments from experts. MAC believe that the new reforms hurt the national broadcasters.

Georgia’s Formula TV disclosed that advertising revenues from the gaming sector currently makes up around 25 percent of all advertising income with almost all entertainment shows on the network being sponsored by betting companies. The media lobby group pointed out that the loss of income from gambling advertising would surely result in a domino effect which will result in TV networks being unable to function due to lack of resources resulting in the possibility that networks would have to close down.

Only 12 online gaming operators are licenced to operate in the jurisdiction. Online gaming operators will also require additional approvals before they can offer services in the jurisdiction. Permission for each online game made available by the operators to the public will cost GEL 100,000 (US $36,974).

Georgian Gambling Association (GGA)

The Georgian Gambling Association is a non-profit and non-commercial legal entity that engages in gambling business and protects the legitimate business interests of member companies. Giorgi Mamulaishvili, Head of Administration at the Georgian Gambling Association said that the organisation is collaborating with the Ministry of Finance but as yet industry stakeholders are unaware of the details of the new additional reforms. Mamulaishvili cautioned gambling companies that provisions needed to be made to cover for the increase in the government’s new increased taxation.  He also said that the reforms are a necessity as a result of the “influx of foreign and illegal sites” available within the Georgian jurisdiction. He added that the full implementation of the legislative changes are scheduled for 2024 and the reforms will be introduced gradually over the next year.


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