EUROPE POKER LAW INDEX

Georgia (the COUNTRY) – Updated Poker Laws in the Region

georgia2Gambling is fully legal in the country of Georgia, not to be mistaken for the U.S. state of Georgia – which of course bears the same name. The Georgia we’re talking about here is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, and countries in this region tend to take a less liberal view towards gambling, but that fact ends up helping the Georgian gambling industry, as up to 75% of the players at Georgian casinos are tourists. (1)

So while the view of Gambling in Georgia tends to be pretty friendly overall, and contributes to both the economy of the country and to tax revenues, there has been some concern lately, as we see in a lot of places, that the wide open access to gambling that Georgians enjoy may have its dark side, and that dark side is of course the extent of problem gambling.

So recently, there has been a movement in the Georgian parliament to restrict gambling at least somewhat, and some feel that restricting gambling advertising will be enough to do the trick, while others want to go further and place actual restrictions on it.

On the other hand, there are many who want to see Georgia’s gambling business expanded, and greatly expanded in fact. Georgia’s location is an ideal one to take advantage of a lot of visitors from nearby countries where access to gambling is quite limited, and there is a movement to seek to have many more casinos built in the country, to add to the 14 that now exist, most of which are in Tbilisi, the capital and largest city.

In particular, they are considering a large scale casino business coming to Batumi, in the order of as many as 30 or 40 new casinos to go along with the 4 that exist now. In spite of Batumi’s modest population of 125,000 people, the plan is to turn it into a major tourist destination and casinos are seen at the forefront of this.

There’s not a lot of live poker available in Georgia at this time and in fact only one of their casinos offer it, and there are only 5 poker tables in the entire country. (2) This could change if the amount of casinos that are being considered end up being built, although the focus here still likely will be primarily on casino games and not poker.

Gambling does have a rich history in Georgia though, and they had casinos operating prior to their takeover by the USSR in 1928, which was resumed when they achieved their independence once again when the USSR fell. (3)

The view of the people in Georgia is very positive toward gambling, although they do share a concern that some members of the Georgian parliament have toward looking to cut down on problem gambling.

One of the proposals is to limit gambling to those Georgia residents who have a monthly income of at least 500 GEL (about $230) and also have at least GEL 5,000 in the bank (about $2300). This would probably be quite difficult to enforce, but the idea here is not to have low income people lose too much money at gambling, and if this could be effectively implemented, it could end up helping that.

This does seem pretty drastic though, not the income level as much as the savings, and this would exclude people who may have a decent income but just aren’t good savers, although it may encourage more Georgians to save more, which may not be a bad thing in itself.

 

Georgia Online Poker

Playing online poker in Georgia is not only legal to play in the comfort of your own home, there are also a large number of public places where residents can gamble online at as well. So you don’t even need an internet connection to play online poker in Georgia as you can just visit one of these establishments and play all you like, while also enjoying a more social face to face experience then you could possibly get playing in private.

While the possibility of the law restricting access to only certain people of modest enough financial means may end up applying to casinos and these land based online gambling establishments, there wouldn’t be any restrictions on playing online in private regardless, as this really wouldn’t be enforceable.

Countries have tried restricting access to people in general from gambling online and this has not really been all that successful, and looking to do so on the basis of income or wealth would make that all the more difficult, as you may imagine.

This isn’t what this proposed law is concerned with anyway though, as it is focused instead on land based gambling, which may or may not include these land based online venues, and may end up being limited to casinos only, that is if it ever does end up being put into law.

There is also talk of raising the age limit at casinos to 25, which is well above what is normally seen, with ages ranging from 18 to 21 typically. This of course wouldn’t apply to online poker since the websites all accept players over 18, at least the unregulated ones, which are the ones that Georgian players have access to.

Surprisingly, most online gambling and online poker in Georgia takes place at these internet gambling clubs and not on people’s private computers and mobile devices, but as people become more familiar with these private ways to access gambling and more people have internet access, private gambling is expanding and will likely continue to do so.

It may be though that the greater social experience that online gambling clubs offer will simply continue to be very popular, and that’s likely to be the case, so it’s not as if these clubs will simply go away. It’s not quite the same as sitting down at a poker table with real people but it at least involves going to a place with other people there and gambling, which is at least closer to the experience, and one a lot of Georgians really do prefer.

Georgians may not play much live poker but they do love their online poker, and Georgian online poker site Adjarabet is among the most popular online poker sites in the world in spite of primarily being focused on Georgia, which only has a population of about 5 million people, so that is impressive indeed and shows just how popular online poker is here. (4)

The bottom line though is that Georgians can play at any online poker site they want, either at a gambling club, at home on their computer, or on their mobile device, and the government isn’t interfering with any of this, which is a nice situation indeed.

References:

(1)  Georgia Considers Gambling Ban

(2)  Georgia Casinos

(3)  Online Gambling Sites in Georgia

(4) Online Poker Traffic Report

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