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Government to Regulate Gambling Business

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Tuesday, August 21
The Government of Georgia is working on new amendments of the Gambling Business. Discussions about Gambling business regulations started years ago, but real changes have not been introduced yet. Part of the experts believes that the issue is artificially hindered because of the importance of this field on the state budget. Georgia is one of the countries in the Caucasus region, with the most liberal gambling policy and this leads to the growth and development of the business. In 2014, when business was at the developing stage, according to the Transparency International research, the total income from the gambling sector in the state budget was 1,4%- approximately 105 million GEL.

Despite the fact, that gambling business can be beneficial for the state economy; it has adverse effects on society. According to various scientific researches, gambling causes the same level of addiction as drugs or alcohol. Accordingly, the gambling-addicted citizen can be a threat to himself and society.

According to the research which was conducted in 2015, by the research center “Alternative Georgia” in collaboration with the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health-9 percent of the Georgian population once a month have played gambling games, and 87% of them said that it resulted in some financial problems.

Some Government officials claim it is impossible to completely ban gambling business because it encourages the development of so-called gambling tourism. Since gambling is strictly regulated in Azerbaijan and Turkey, Georgia remains one of the best touristic destinations for Turkish and Azerbaijani gamblers. In Azerbaijan, sports-betting tables and lotteries are allowed, but casinos remain banned. The ban on gambling dates back to 1998. As for Turkey gambling is highly regulated. The state prohibited casinos in 1998, and it banned non-state online gambling in 2006. A state lottery and betting services exist, however, and some online gambling and illegal gambling continues to persist.

Accordingly, the government has decided to regulate business in a way that it will affect the state budget, but on the other hand, new amendments will decrease the number of Georgian citizens involved in gambling.

According to the draft of amendments, the unified registry will be created, where gamblers will be registered, and any family member of the player will have the right to appeal to the court to get a specific person out of the registry.

All public servants before being employed in the public sector will have an obligation to enter the list of those who are banned from engaging in gambling.

Restrictions will be imposed on socially vulnerable persons and besides, the government will consider increasing age restriction to 25.

Member of Georgian Dream Levan Gogichaishvili in his interview with Kviris Palitra talked about restriction gambling business ads and hoped that the Public Broadcaster would refuse to circulate gambling business ad: " We are considering banning the circulation of gambling business ads till 12 pm like it is in case of tobacco and alcohol. Some companies may find it difficult from the financial point of view, but public interest is more important than the private interests of certain individuals. I hope the Public Broadcaster will refuse to circulate gambling business ads”, Levan Gogichaishvilisaid.

Discussions about the regulation of gambling business have started a long time ago, but there is no actual meaningful reform made yet. It is not known yet whether the parliament accepts the new draft of amendments to regulate one of the most economically beneficial business.