SBC News Georgia PM signs off on higher gambling taxes 

Georgia PM signs off on higher gambling taxes 

Irakli Gharibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, has instructed ministerial agencies to proceed with increasing taxes on gambling businesses.   

The PM declared the command as a primary directive of the Budget Speech, citing concerns that gambling had reached “catastrophic levels”, as Georgians are reported to have wagered GEL 52bn (€17bn) in 2022.

As a direct response to growing concerns, Gharibashvili has instructed the Georgian government to raise corporate tax on gambling profits from 10% to 15%. Further measures outlined will see Georgia adopt an increase on the tax on customer withdrawals from 2% to 5%.

2022 saw PM Garibashvili approve a new decree which prohibited individuals under 25, socially vulnerable citizens, public employees, and those blacklisted by courts or self-restricting from all gambling activities (land-based and online). The directive saw 1.5 million citizens blocked from engaging with gambling activities.

Since 2020, Georgian gambling has witnessed consecutive years of regulatory challenges, in which licensed operators have had to comply with a blanket-ban imposed on all advertising across national media and an increase in the tax base of gambling income from 65-to-70%.

The further tax increase applied to gambling profits is projected to generate an additional GEL 400m (€130m) per annum in revenue for Georgian ministries.

PM Garibashvili noted:  “Last year, we made important changes by restricting advertising and gambling for our citizens under 25 years of age. One and a half million citizens were automatically deprived of the right to participate in gambling.

“We have decided to increase taxes on this business and next year we expect an increase in the state budget of 400 million lari. In general, the revised version of the budget will increase by 700 million, and the total budget will be 28 billion 500 million lari. This will be the budget of 2024.”

National trade body, the Georgian Gambling Association (GGA), defended the gambling sector, citing that licensed operators had faced challenges adopting new restrictions that have simply led to an influx of illegal sites targeting Georgian consumers since 2021.

The GGA stands by its previous appeal to the government to work with Georgian-based gambling businesses in order to implement effective safeguards protecting national consumers.

Georgia will adopt its new tax amendments on gambling in 2024, in which the government warned that tougher monitoring of gambling businesses is required for Georgia to fulfill its ’12-point conditions’ as a nation seeking full EU membership status.

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