Head of the Georgian Gambling Association: “In social terms, we have received a partially unstable and illegal market”

In January-February 2023, the Georgian budget collected 12% fewer gambling fees than the previous year. 

During the first two months of this year, the gambling business contributed 1,874,465 GEL (approximately $728,000). For the same period last year, the amount was 2,124,796 GEL (approximately $825,000).

Slot machines contributed 808,734 GEL (approximately $314,000) to the state budget in January and February of 2023, which is 160% more compared to 310,800 GEL (approximately $121,000) that was collected last year.

Upon the initiative of Georgia’s prime minister, new regulations came into force on March 1, 2022 prohibiting citizens under the age of 25, socially vulnerable individuals, public employees, and individuals blacklisted by courts from gambling. 

Since March 1, 2022, 1,457,526 people have been added to the list of banned persons in the Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia.

Giorgi Mamulaishvili, head of the Georgian Gambling Association (GGA), said such restrictions have little effect since most of those on the list have switched to foreign illegal sites.

“In social terms, we have received a partially unstable and illegal market. There was a loss of about one billion GEL to such sites last year. A lot of money went towards illegal sites due to their high margins – 40-45%,” he said.

Such restrictions are very attractive to illegal companies. According to Mamulaishvili, approximately 720 illegal sites are trying to enter the Georgian market right now.

Meanwhile, it repels legal large operators. “Foreign investors see that the government tightens regulations every year, and they lose interest in our market. Previously, there were 135 legal operators in Georgia, but now there are only 86. There is no doubt that the government is interested in solving this problem, but it should be done comprehensively,” concluded the Head of GGA.

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