The Government of Georgia prevent citizens from engaging in gambling activities

This month, the Government of Georgia took decisive action to prevent 1.45 million citizens from engaging in gambling activities, as revealed by Lasha Khutsishvili – Minister of Finance and key market commentator. The announcement follows a series of important reforms which aim to protect individuals from unwanted financial risks associated with gambling. 

Last year, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili implemented a reform to protect the social welfare of vulnerable citizens by prohibiting all gambling activities for persons under 25. Additionally, civil servants were banned from participating in any form of wagering activity due to its potential threat on organized crime and illegal fund-raising operations. The new law set limits but also allowed foreigners residing there who are 18 years or older the right to gamble if they wish. This is part of their plan towards achieving EU candidate status as per European Council 12 point conditions mandate which aims at raising awareness about criminal activities conducted through betting platforms & online casinos. 

To ensure the safety of citizens, gambling advertising across all media and platforms was strictly limited with an increase to tax on the activity rising significantly. This rise ranged from 65-70%. 

Minister Khutsishvili has unveiled stringent new measures to further regulate the gambling industry in Georgia. Aimed at bringing policies into harmony with European Union guidelines, these reforms will bring a hardline stance on ship-based casinos and enforce strict restrictions across all operations. The Government is determined to combat any problems within the sector so that their objectives meet EU standards.

Online Gambling 

Georgia’s government is enforcing a ban on gambling come April 2023, following last year’s strict regulations that blocked TV and website advertisement. Though operators may still sign sponsorships in sports, they will be subject to the same stringent standards set forth by Georgian authorities.

The Media Advocacy Coalition (MAC) has been pushing back against the latest restrictions, expressing that research and assessments from industry experts were not taken into account before making a decision. This could be damaging to national broadcasters as MAC believes it would infringe upon their rights.

With a limited number of authorized operators, the gaming industry in this jurisdiction is highly regulated. To offer services to users, online gaming companies must exercise due diligence and obtain necessary approvals. Furthermore, each game made available by these businesses will be subject to a fee equivalent to GEL 100K (US $36k).

The Georgian Gambling Association is a renowned non-profit legal entity, committed to safeguarding fair gambling operations and representing the best interests of its members. Recently, Head of Administration at Georgia Gambling Association Mr. Mamulaishvili announced that they are collaborating with the Ministry of Finance on upcoming additional reforms meant for increased taxation in order to counter foreign illegal sites operating within Georgian jurisdiction. He also advised gambling companies to make provisions accordingly as per these reformations which have been deemed necessary by authorities. With 2024 as the target date, legislative changes are set to be gradually introduced over the next twelve months with full implementation in sight.

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