Georgia's Prime Minister Weighing Online Casino Ban

November 23, 2021
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During a government meeting on Monday, the Georgian Prime Minister announced plans to raise taxes for online casinos, ban gambling ads and raise the legal age for gambling to 25, but warned he is also considering a total ban on online casinos.

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During a government meeting on Monday, the Georgian Prime Minister announced plans to raise taxes for online casinos, ban gambling ads and raise the legal age for gambling to 25, but warned he is also considering a total ban on online casinos.

"I think that at the first stage, the minister (of finance) will present a legislative initiative, which implies an increase in taxes for online casino owners. The vast majority of them are foreign companies. Unfortunately, the money of our citizens is flowing outside the country," said Irakli Garibashvili.

According to estimates provided by the Prime Minister, the state is losing 1.5bn lari ($482m) annually due to the operation of online casinos which, because they are foreign companies, funnel large amounts of money out of the country instead of reinvesting it in the economy.

Garibashvili added that the age limit for playing online casino games will be increased from 18 to 25 years old, while a complete ban on the sector is under consideration.

Georgia is known as a regional gaming hub in the Caucasus region, with many casinos in the two biggest cities — Tbilisi and Batumi — attracting wealthy tourists from the neighboring countries, where gambling is prohibited: including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and others.

Online casinos have also grown massively in the country due to previously favourable legislation, low rent, utility and labour costs, along with a population more prone to gambling and proximity to countries with no legal games.

After local operators began to show success in the sector, the largest were acquired by giants such as Paddy Power Betfair (now Flutter), GVC Holdings (now Entain) and Betsson Group, which respectively own Adjarabet, Crystalbet and Europebet.

However, the problem of excessive gambling among young people in Georgia has been acute for several years and politically-backed protests have taken place demanding the introduction of a partial or complete online casino ban.

Anna Dolidze, former deputy minister of defence and leader of the opposition party, organised a civil movement advocating a ban after several high-profile suicides due to gambling addiction.

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