Georgia Online Gambling Ops may get the Boot

Budding online gambling country of Georgia looks to outlaw iGaming?

When you think of Georgia, chances are your mind wonders to the southeastern U.S. state. Most of us know the area for its thriving peach farms, or as the host of the 1996 Olympic Games. But that’s not the Georgia we’re talking about today. We’re talking about the small country of Georgia, located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia.

Georgia considers Online Gambling BanGeorgia is snugly nestled along the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. To the north lies Russia, with Turkey and Armenia to the south, Azerbaijan to the southeast, and the Black Sea to the west. With a landmass of 69.7k square kilometers, it is home to approximately 3.72 million people; nearly half of which reside in its capitol city, Tbilisi.

Such info may be new to you, but if you’re reading this, chances are the online gambling industry is not. Georgia is actually a budding home to this industry, where several companies have based their operations. Abjarabet is the largest operator in the area, along with sites like Geogrand and Cryslatbet.

Live dealer casino supplier Authentic Gaming is also entrenched in the Georgian iGaming market. This company hosts live streaming roulette games from the Hilton Casino International in Batumi, Georgia.

A relative newcomer to the live casino industry, Authentic Gaming launched its first product in 2016, installing live roulette table at Italy’s Saint Vincent Resort and Casino. As of May 2017, they now operate three live casinos, following the latest opening at Platinum Casino in Bucharest, Romania.

But the current situation in Georgia could sheer off one-third of that company’s revenue, and put the rest of the country’s online gambling operators out of business completely.

Georgia Ponders Regulation to Outlaw Online Gambling

According to the latest reports from Georgian media sources, iGaming could become outlawed in the country. Parliament is hosting special commissions in tandem with the Finance Ministry to institute internet gaming regulations. But instead of broadening the efficacy of this budding revenue stream, the regulation may come by way of prohibition.

Lasha Khutsishvili is the Deputy Finance Minister of Georgia. He confirmed that regulatory talks are underway, and that lawmakers are questioning whether a ban on interactive gambling is the correct decision.

“We analyze the world experience to understand how effective are those or other measures taken with respect to online gaming,” Khutsishvili told the media.

“The international practice shows that at present there are no effective mechanisms to actually prohibit online games. Millions are spent from the state budget on such measures, but in vain,” he said.

Khutsishvili went on to explain that the Finance Ministry is looking at the issue from all angles, including “the point of view of fiscal policy”. He noted that “full control over the Internet is associated with very high costs”.

A high cost, indeed. Much larger nations, with much higher budgets to allocate towards the cause, have attempted similar bans. Russia, for example, passed laws to outlaw online gambling in 2006. But it’s done nothing to thwart hundreds of operators from accepting Russian players; even major operators like 888, LeoVegas and William Hill.

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