Georgia is planning to introduce a raft of gambling reforms after the country's prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, approved a bill of gaming law revisions. The new regulations will surely attract controversy as the government plans to permit land-based establishments to operate online casino sites.
The changes represent the biggest overhaul of the nation's gaming laws since Georgia attempted to do so in 2021. Georgia was responding to concerns about safer gaming amid the country's emergence as a center for land-based gambling.
With the proposed reforms, gambling operators in the country are certain to feel the pinch. The new law proposes a €1.6 million (£1.41 million/$1.7 million) gaming license fee. This has drawn criticism, with industry stakeholders referring to it as a significant amount of money for the nation.
At that time, the Georgian parliament passed legislation raising the legal gambling age to 25 and increasing the tax rate for online gambling operators to 70%. In addition, the new regulations outlaw TV gambling adverts and prohibit public employees and those who are self-excluded from gambling activities.
Following the proposed regulations, the country's ten land-based casinos, including the three biggest companies, Adjara Group, Crystalbet, and Iveria, would get online casino licenses. Additionally, online slots would only be available in land-based venues, similar to how sports betting is only available at physical bookmakers.
According to Szilaghi Consulting's president, Alex Szilaghi, this was a high cost, given the size of the country. The expert noted that the proposed fee is a sizable sum for Georgia and any EU country. Szilaghi urged the government to foster the expansion of local gambling businesses while providing a level playing field for all.
"These changes will allow land-based casinos to have online casinos, and will also allow the companies who are interested in the online business to basically get the license just for the online casino," he added.