In its first reading, the Georgian parliament has approved a package of eight bills that would increase taxes for online casinos and ban the advertising of gambling.
The package of measures would also raise the age limit for gambling to 25 years and create a central player blacklist to include all civil servants and the socially vulnerable.
The current version of the bill sets a new tax for online gambling at 10 percent of gross gaming revenue (GGR), paid monthly.
In addition, a 2 percent income tax will be imposed on the amount withdrawn by a person from an account after participating in a gambling or any other profitable game.
The authors of the bill suggest that this will bring GEL127m ($41m) to the budget in 2022 from the GGR tax and another GEL98m ($32m) via the player income tax.
The tax rise comes paired with measures which are certain to reduce the number of available gamblers in the market.
According to the bill’s authors, the age limit increase and the central blacklist will deprive almost 1m people of the right to play and, they estimate, the budget will lose GEL50m ($16m) in annual income as a result.
The draft legislation would also ban television and outdoor advertising for gambling, as well as digital ads on Georgian websites.
The vote took place less than a month after the country’s Prime Minister announced his dramatic plans for the gambling industry.
The vote went ahead despite a plea from the Georgian Gambling Association to organise a dialogue and evaluate the effect of each proposal with local business representatives, who say they have not been contacted by the government or other lawmakers.
However, the bill still faces two more readings and, as often happens in Georgian politics, the law could be amended or revised during this process.