Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili, has taken steps to address the growing issue of gambling in the country by increasing taxes on the gambling sector. He described the increasing turnover in the sector from GEL48bn to GEL52bn ($19.2bn/£15.5bn/€17.9bn) as “catastrophic” and expressed his surprise at the continued participation despite the ban on advertising and raising the minimum age to 25 for gambling.
In his budget speech, Gharibashvili announced that the rate imposed on gambling business profits will be increased from 10% to 15%, and there will also be changes regarding the withdrawal of money, with players now paying 5% instead of 2%. These amendments to rates are expected to raise an additional GEL400m per annum.
The Prime Minister expressed his dissatisfaction with the high number of citizens involved in the gambling business, despite the government’s efforts to impose restrictions and regulations. Last year, important changes were made to ban advertising and restrict citizens from participating in gambling before the age of 25. However, with 1.5 million citizens still involved in gambling, Gharibashvili felt it necessary to increase additional taxes on the business.
Earlier this year, Gharibashvili also signed off on a series of reforms to the country’s gambling laws, with new rules that limited online casinos to land-based organizations. These reforms are aimed at combating gambling harms, particularly among younger demographics.
Under the new rules, 10 land-based casino businesses in the country would be permitted to hold an online casino license, and the offering of online slots and sports betting would be limited to retail locations. Additional online-only licenses are now available for a fee of €1.6m per year, which has garnered some criticism but is seen as an attempt to create an equal playing field for local companies.
Overall, the reforms signify a significant shake-up to Georgia’s gambling laws and are a response to the growing concerns surrounding gambling harm and addiction in the country.