A new decree approved last year has banned well over a million people from participating in gambling in Georgia. The law, which follows the introduction of new online casino restrictions, bans under 25s, public employees, the socially vulnerable and those blacklisted by courts from gambling.
Minister of finance Lasha Khutsishvili said 1.45 million citizens are now banned from gambling, including people who are self-excluding. The new law came into effect this month after being approved by prime minister Irakli Garibashvili last year.
Last month, Garibashvili approved another batch of restrictions to tighten the country’s gambling laws. One of the measures will be to ring-fence online casino licences so they can be held only by land-based casinos based in Georgia.
That would make Adjara Group, Crystalbet and Iveria the only operators that can hold online casino licences. However, in addition, the government plans to offer a licence for exclusive rights to operate online casino for a fee of €1.6m.
Last year, the government presented plans to introduce separate gaming licences for specific verticals so that operators would no longer be able to expand into different verticals with no need for an additional permit. The annual permit fees for each of the business types (online casino, slots and betting) were to be set at €35,580.
All gambling advertising on TV, websites and public places has also been banned, and gambling taxes have been raised. Another batch of measures that are expected to be imposed includes a ban on casinos on ships.
The government says the measures are designed to bring the country in line with the EU expectations as it seeks to enter the bloq, although there is no EU ban on gambling advertising or prohibiting certain people from participating.