For more than 15 years Georgia has been steadily moving forward on its way to modernization and enhancement of gambling industry. Thanks to modern legislation related to industry regulation and loyal taxation policy, the country has favourable environment for running gambling business, which opens up ample opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Today Georgia is one of the few countries in the CIS region, where one can acknowledge a stable increase in government revenue from gambling and systematic development of the industry supported by simple terms for starting gambling activity.
Activity of gambling institutions in Georgia is regulated by Revenue Service, whose main responsibilities include issue of licenses, formation of taxation policy, creation of favourable environment for industry development, as well as control over following business management rules by industry representatives.
Key operating principles of Georgian Revenue Service include securing justice and integrity within the industry, as well as protection of consumer rights, and especially minimization of harmful influence of gambling on vulnerable social groups.
Activity of Revenue Service is based on the number of legislative acts, including such fundamental laws as “On organizing lotteries, gambling and profit-generating games” and “On licenses and permits”, which were introduced in 2005, as well as Tax Code of Georgia and a range of orders from the Ministry of Finance.
In accordance with abovementioned legislative drafts all types of gambling activity are legal on the territory of the country. Thus, entrepreneurs can get licenses for running business in the following spheres: casino, slot machines, table games, betting business, bingo, lotto, lotteries, online casino, online totalizer and slot machine saloons.
Peculiarities of obtaining a permit
An important peculiarity of gambling license acquisition in Georgia is the simplicity of permit procedure. Thus, license application can be submitted online and totally free of charge by filing scans of required documents on the website of Revenue Service. Set of documents depends on the type of gambling activity. Application will be considered within the period of 20 days. If operator wants to speed up the process, he will have to pay for urgency: for consideration of application within 10 days - GEL 400 ($365), 5 days - GEL 800 ($330), for preparation of license for the next day - GEL 2 000 ($850).
License is issued for all types of gambling and remains in force for five years. Applicants can be represented by companies, registered in Georgia, and owned by native as well as foreign person.
One more substantial feature of running gambling business in Georgia is the fact that operator must have a license for land-based gambling activities in order to be able to organize an online casino.
Tax levies in gambling business
Different types of gambling activities are subject to annual and quarterly levies. Annual levy comprises a fixed amount and is paid in equal installments on a regular basis. Quarterly levy depends on the type of activity and location of gambling institution. From the perspective of taxes the most profitable regions are resort zones, which offer privileged taxation systems. For example, 80-100-room hotels, located not far from Batumi, Kobuleti or Khelvachauri, are exempt from taxes. And in such zones as Gudauri, Kazbegi and Signaxi operators don’t pay taxes regardless of business characteristics.
Enterprises with + 100 hotel rooms are exempted from annual levy.
(Blue triangles) Enterprises with + 80 hotel rooms are exempted from annual levy.
(Red triangles) Enterprises are exempted from annual levy without any strings attached.
(Green triangles) The capital of Georgia – Tbilisi – on the contrary, has the highest gambling taxes, as far as gambling is especially popular in that region. Annual permit for gambling institution costs GEL 5 million a year, for slot machines – GEL 1 million.
Annual levy according to different types of gambling institutions:
GEL 100-5000 thousand
GEL 50-1000 thousand
Table games club
GEL 10-50 thousand
GEL 30-300 thousand
Bingo and lotto
GEL 15 thousand
GEL 15 thousand
According to the law “On gambling levy” from 29.12.2006 № 4250, quarterly amounts of levy in gambling business comprise:
a) from each casino table - quarterly from GEL 15 000 to GEL 30 000 inclusive (24.04.2012 № 6056);
b) from each gambling machine - quarterly from GEL 1500 to GEL 3000 inclusive (12.10.2010 № 3661);
c) from each incentive prize drawing – 10% of prize fund;
d) for system-electronic game – quarterly from GEL 30000 to GEL 60000 including (09.12.2011 № 5453);
e) for organization of lottery – not more than 20% of revenues from sales of lottery tickets
f) from each cashier for games and system-electronic concepts outside of the object stipulated by the license for organization of gambling projects and profit-generating games - quarterly from GEL 1000 to GEL 15000 inclusive (09.12.2011 № 5453);
g) from each table in a club - quarterly from GEL 3000 to GEL 10 000 inclusive.
Gambling institutions also pay additional taxes:
- on income of physical persons (salaries) – 20%;
- on property – до 1%;
- Corporate income tax – 15%;
- Responsibility tax, charged during tournaments, – 20%.
Specifics of online casino operation in Georgia
As it was already mentioned above, in order to be able to open an online casino, an operator has to own an operating land-based casino. There is no separate permit for online gambling activities. Offshore companies are also forbidden to provide online casino services in Georgia.
It is allowed to organize the following types of online gambling activities:
- slot machines;
For running an online casino operators have to pay quarterly levy of GEL 30-60 thousand and additional taxes. In Tbilisi such kind of levy comprises GEL 60 thousand. In Batumi – GEL 30 thousand.
Amount of gambling institutions in Georgia
Batumi – 11 (4 of them have hotel rooms)
Tskaltubo – 5
Tbilisi – 3
Kazbegi – 1
Amount of issued permits as of 2016:
Betting houses – 107
Slot machines – 72
Lottery – 41
Gambling clubs –
Lotto – 3
In 2015 gambling tax revenue in Georgia comprised $5.4 million. Government officials consider that casinos are the main factor of attracting investments to hotel business of the region, and therefore they are planning to continue creating favourable conditions for industry development. In 2015 casinos in Batumi were visited by 500 thousand people, 80% of whom were foreigners.