The Republic of Georgia is preparing legislation to restrict gambling advertising and the ability to fund accounts with internationally licensed gambling sites.
Last week, Georgian media outlet Commersant reported that legislators were preparing a bill to curtail pretty much all gambling advertising other than sponsorships. However, Georgia Today reported that violators of these new advertising rules will be subject to fines of only GEL10k (US$3,830), which seems a bit low to deter any serious operators.
The Ministry of Finance is also reportedly mulling a prohibition on gambling by anyone under the age of 25. While the government claims it’s seeking to reduce the harms gambling can cause society, local gambling operators say the tactic will backfire, as younger Georgians will simply choose to patronize internationally licensed gambling sites.
Aha, said the government, that theory supports our plan to cut off the flow of money from Georgian punters to international gambling sites. Specifically, credit card firms and other payment processors would be required to restrict transactions with international gambling sites, so basically one should expect a significant spike in the online sale of golf balls, flowers and other definitely not-gambling items like the US witnessed in the pre-Black Friday era.
I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE NO MATH
Georgia’s domestic gambling industry reportedly generated spending of GEL5.65b (US$2.3b) last year. However, the government appears to believe that this figure could be only the tip of the iceberg.
Last month, the Ministry of Finance published a document in which it admitted that the government currently “has no mechanism” for determining how much money is flowing through locally licensed gambling operations, which include land-based casinos, slots halls, betting shops and online betting sites.
As such, the Ministry announced a tender for a company to help quantify how much revenue is being generated by each gambling channel, and how much of this revenue may be going unreported to the tax man. The tender closed on Tuesday, and the Ministry hopes to unleash the most qualified applicant on the unsuspecting gambling industry by December.
According to the government’s official count, as of June 30, there were just under 6,400 slots, 90 betting shops and seven online gambling sites operating in the country with the government’s permission. Whatever revenue is generated by these channels is supposed to be subject to a 7% tax rate.