The Georgian government kept proceeding with the reforms that impacted both casinos and the players. Since the reforms began earlier this month, more than 1.4 million players from Georgia have been banned from playing.
Minister of Finance of the Caucasus nation, Lasha Khutsishvili, shared these numbers with the Georgian government and updated them about developments in the market.
Aligning with the EU plans:
PM Irakli Garibashvili approved a new decree related to gambling rules last year. By this decree, everyone younger than 25 years old is prohibited from gambling. The prohibition includes other groups of citizens, such as socially vulnerable ones, public employees, and players who were blacklisted by courts and self-restricted from both land-based and online activities.
Since Georgia still didn’t become an EU candidate, these restrictions were required in order to fulfill European Council 12-point conditions. The main point of these conditions is to fight against organized crime and to upgrade the existing processes.
The players weren’t the only ones who were hit by these restrictions. The operators and providers are now prohibited from advertising anything related to gambling products and services on national media. The companies also were hit by increasing the tax base, which is now 65-70%.
This is not the end of the reforms: Parliament will continue to tighten regulations. During the following period, ship-based casinos will be forbidden, and online gambling operators will need additional permissions to operate further in the country.
A problem for operators:
Every online game will have to possess specific permission, and a single one will cost $36.974, or GEL 100.000. By April 1st, all of the companies are required to act in accordance with the new regulations. As the Ministry of Finance stated, only 12 operators currently possess needed licenses.
Giorgi Mamulaishvili, a Head of the Georgian Gambling Association (GGA), said that the stakeholders in the industry weren’t aware of the amendments and their details, despite the meetings with the Ministry of Finance already having been held.
GGA is still planning to argue about the issue. They hope they will be allowed to be present at the committee hearings, but they’re aware that the companies will have to optimize their expenses in favor of the country since the taxes have increased.
Georgians aren’t happy about the decision. The additional problem is that illegal and foreign sites have started overflowing the Georgian gambling market.
All of the required changes and updates need to be fully incorporated by 2024. The government will continue to work towards its EU path, and the Georgian market will have no choice but to align with the changes.