Georgia, a small country located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, has a relatively young casino industry, with its first legal casino opening in 1992. Since then, the industry has grown and become an important part of the country’s economy.
The legal framework for the casino industry in Georgia is quite liberal. In 1998, the Georgian parliament adopted a law “On Lotteries and Gambling”, which regulates all forms of gambling activities, including casinos. The law establishes the conditions and requirements for the operation of casinos and the licensing procedures.
According to the law, any legal entity registered in Georgia can apply for a casino license. The license is issued by the Ministry of Finance and allows the operation of both land-based and online casinos. The minimum age for casino visitors is 21 years old, and casinos are required to take measures to prevent problem gambling.
The casino industry in Georgia has experienced significant growth in recent years, with a number of new casinos opening and existing ones expanding. According to the Georgian Ministry of Finance, there are currently 14 licensed land-based casinos in the country, all of which are located in the capital city of Tbilisi.
The largest casino in Georgia is the Shangri La Tbilisi, which opened in 2012. The casino is part of a larger entertainment complex, which includes a hotel, a spa, and several restaurants. The Shangri La Tbilisi is owned by Storm International, a company that operates several casinos in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Another significant player in the Georgian casino industry is the Casino Adjara, which is part of the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. The casino features a wide range of games, including roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and poker, as well as slot machines. The Casino Adjara also hosts regular poker tournaments, including the annual Tbilisi Open.
In addition to these large casinos, there are several smaller casinos in Tbilisi, as well as in the resort town of Batumi on the Black Sea coast. Batumi has become a popular destination for tourists, and the local government has been actively promoting the development of the casino industry in the area.
Online gambling is also legal in Georgia, and several online casinos are licensed by the Ministry of Finance. However, the online gambling market is relatively small compared to the land-based casino industry.
The casino industry in Georgia has become an important part of the country’s economy, providing jobs and generating revenue for the government. According to the Ministry of Finance, the casino industry contributed approximately 0.5% of Georgia’s GDP in 2019.
The industry is also a significant employer, providing jobs for thousands of people. According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration, the tourism sector, which includes the casino industry, accounted for 7.6% of total employment in the country in 2019.
In addition to direct economic impact, the casino industry also has a significant multiplier effect, as casinos attract tourists and other businesses to the area. For example, the Shangri La Tbilisi complex includes several restaurants and a shopping center, which provide additional revenue for the local economy.
Challenges and controversies
Despite the economic benefits of the casino industry, there are also concerns about its social impact. The Georgian government has taken steps to address these concerns, including implementing measures to prevent problem gambling and introducing a self-exclusion program for individuals who want to ban themselves from casinos.
However, some critics argue that these measures are not enough, and that the government should do more to address the social costs of gambling. There have also been concerns about money laundering and organized crime, as the casino industry can be vulnerable to these activities.
In addition to these social concerns, there have also been controversies surrounding the ownership of some of the casinos in Georgia. For example, the ownership of the Casino Adjara has been the subject of controversy, with allegations of links to organized crime. The casino has denied these allegations, and the Georgian government has stated that the casino is operating legally.
Another challenge for the casino industry in Georgia is competition from neighboring countries. The country’s location at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia makes it a convenient location for tourists from a wide range of countries. However, neighboring countries such as Armenia and Azerbaijan also have casino industries, which can compete with Georgia’s casinos for visitors.
Despite these challenges, the casino industry in Georgia continues to grow and attract visitors from around the world. The industry has become an important part of the country’s economy, providing jobs and generating revenue for the government. However, it is important for the government to balance the economic benefits of the industry with the social costs, and to ensure that the industry operates in a transparent and responsible manner.