Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili says the government is planning to increase fees for the swathe of offshore online gambling businesses operating in the country – while simultaneously banning gaming ads and lifting the age limit to 25. Yet these are only initial steps, he says, preceding a full ban at some stage within two years.
Garibashvili said around GEL1.5bn currently flows out of the country each year through online operators, many of whom do not pay their taxes due to online casinos.
“This is the money of the country’s poor population. 99% percent of the individuals who are engaged with online gambling are socially vulnerable,” Garibashvili said.
The move follows a slew of new restrictions creeping eastward from the developed countries of Western and Central Europe. The PM said that the country’s Finance Ministry will soon present a bill on all the new regulations for online casinos and the wider sector.
Restrictions are expected to be imposed as a first attempt to control the industry, Garibashvili added, however he also suggested that online gambling may be banned altogether in Georgia at some stage in the future.
Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili says that increased fees for online casinos amid new restrictions which will decrease the number of users, will ensure lower impact on their contribution to the state budget.
Khutsishvili also said that the complete ban on online gambling is not expected “this or the next year.”