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Government to Increase Tax for Online Casinos, Tighten Restriction on Sales of Psychotropic Drugs

By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, November 23
Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili announced yesterday that the government plans to increase taxes for online gambling businesses, ban advertising, and increase the minimum age limit for gamblers from 18 to 25 years. According to the PM, GEL1.5 billion flows out of the country annually due to online casinos as the majority of the gambling companies are foreign. He stated that the country’s Finance Ministry will present a bill on new regulations for online casinos shortly.

According to Gharibashvili, gambling and online casinos are a major concern of every citizen of the country and the majority,99%, of gamblers are socially vulnerable people, who have no jobs.

The PM stressed that at the first stage higher fees will be imposed for online gambling but eventually the government will completely ban online casinos in Georgia. According to Finance Minister Lasha Khucishvili, banning online gambling is not expected in the next couple of years.

The PM said that gambling is directly linked to drug addiction and highlighted the need to tighten restrictions on the selling of psychotropic drugs at pharmacies.

“Legislation on drug addiction has become quite liberal and our youth are consuming harmful substances instead of being engaged in sports, education, and employment. That is why, psychotropic substances should be banned from sale and I will personally follow-up on the enforcement of the process,” stated the PM of Georgia.

At the Executive Government Meeting yesterday, Gharibashvili announced an initiative to offer jobs to socially vulnerable citizens instead of social allowances. According to the Head of Government, almost 600 000 socially vulnerable individuals live in Georgia, half of which are capable of working, but they are not encouraged to find jobs "due to the existing social policy of the country."

“Existing social policy evidence shows that the current trend is alarming in general. Let us say straight that we got our adult and capable citizens used to unemployment, poverty, and idleness under the current social policy,” PM asserted.

According to him, socially vulnerable citizens are not motivated to find a new job as they are afraid of losing the allowances provided by the state. The PM stated that in the coming few weeks the government will present a new Social Vision - a Social Policy - on changing the current system with a new, ‘healthy’ one. The government will create a new program aimed at creating jobs in the public sector and offering employment opportunities to capable citizens.