Approximately for 25 years gambling industry has been developing on the territory of the great and picturesque country of Georgia. The history of industry development has been rich in events and dramatic turns as well as the history of the country itself. Having survived several epochs of total ban, long-awaited reappearances, and rapid leaps to stability and new restrictions, today Georgian gambling business is duly considered to be the most developed and promising in CIS countries. Modernization of gambling sector, implementation of transparent taxation policy and creation of favourable conditions for running business has made Georgian gambling market one of the most attractive for foreign investors.
A kind of celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of gambling industry in Georgia has become an international event in Tbilisi – Georgia Gaming Congress, which gathered gambling business representatives of different fields of activities in order to discuss up-to-date issues for Georgian gambling industry. Entrepreneurs, casino managers, experts, developers and manufacturers – all men of weight in the industry faced a range of issues that require a detailed study on this stage of gambling development:
- Does gambling industry in Georgia need additional restrictions
- What are the ways of improving the taxation patterns of gambling market
- Perspectives of using creative tools of subconscious marketing for casinos
- Growth of online casino and betting industry market share.
But the main question, which consolidated all presentations and discussions and marked the whole congress, is the future of the industry, discussions on whether it will experience blooming and stability or another recession.
In order to sort out this question, let’s analyze the modern state of gambling industry, considering several key aspects.
Whether gambling market in Georgia is really promising for foreign investments is the first thing that should be noted.
Let’s examine this aspect through the example of report by Helmut Wede, a representative of the first foreign casino in Georgia – Casinos Austria International. Speaker summarized the annual results of casino performance in Georgian market and shared his experience of conducting gambling activities in the country.
Reciting all positive terms for running business in Georgia, Helmut highlighted such administrative special characteristics as loose regulation of industry, well-handled state administration and simplified, quick bureaucracy system.
Speaker believes that Georgia has a huge tourist potential and entrepreneurs who start their business there should wait for heavy tourist traffic from Iraq, Iran, Russia, Persian Gulf and etc. And it’s all thanks to the excellent and advantageous geographical position, as well as natural resources of Georgia alongside with the interesting history and culture.
Further speaker focused on successful realization of his gambling project - Casinos Austria International, which was developed thanks to concerted efforts of Austrian designers and Georgian architect. Helmut had some doubts in the process of work on the establishment, but after its opening and rapid success of the casino, all of them were dispelled.
Helmut Wede thinks that the best time for gambling activities in Georgia is summer season, as far as snow and cold weather don’t encourage tourism. That’s why in summer should be organized the majority of races, not expensive ones, in order to allow people come to Georgia seamlessly. After all, even researches done in Las Vegas show that 53% of tourists decide to go to casino after they arrive to their destination point.
Among the main disadvantages that should be neutralized in the shortest terms Helmut named a badly developed transport infrastructure, especially in Batumi, the lack of which is mostly felt in rainy seasons. He insists that there should be no deficiency of transport, highways and air services, there should be a green light for tourists.
Summing up his speech and referring to his successful experience of launching a gambling project in Batumi, Helmut concluded that gambling market in Georgia is prospective and promising in terms of all aspects.
The next important aspect that influences the future of gambling in Georgia is the system of taxation.
TeonaShiukashvili, a representative of Georgia Revenue Service, spoke at Georgia Gaming Congress on the topic “Taxation of gambling business in Georgia”.
Teona started her presentation with a reference to two main principles that underlie the gambling legislation in Georgia. The first main principle lies in arrangement of favourable conditions for running gambling business fairly and transparently. The second principle is based on protection of children and other vulnerable social categories from harmful influence of gambling games.
Then speaker told in more details about the procedure of getting all necessary permits, as well as tax rates for different spheres of gambling activity.
For instance, permits to conduct gambling activity are issued in online format. There is no need to go to tax administration in order to file documents or get a permit, which is very convenient for businessmen and significantly simplifies paperwork.
Permits for casinos, slot machine halls, betting houses, bingo and lotteries are issued for a term of 5 years, which is also a beneficial condition for running business.
Further Teona spoke about tax levies for different spheres of gambling business. Thus, annual taxation of gambling companies depends on the region, where they are located. In some regions businessmen are released from annual governmental levies, especially in Batumi. Such conditions open up even more opportunities for businessmen.
Teona also conducted a benchmarking analysis of payout ratios for companies from different gambling spheres, pointed out the amounts of annual installments.
TeonaShiukashvili believes that favourable taxation policy in Georgia and beneficial conditions for running business have already positively affected the development of gambling industry, and in the future will bring even more significant results, such as foreign investments, increase in the number of working places and stable state revenues.
The last aspect that is worth considering in the course of giving a coherent view of development prospects of gambling industry in Georgia is online gambling.
This topic was highlighted by Archil Kakhidze, head of Sports & Casino department at Adjarabet.com. Speaker stated that today the online segment accounts for 50% of the whole gambling market in Georgia. That’s why many businessmen focus their efforts on it as the most promising and profitable segment.
Speaker also spoke about efficient tools used in online business, ways of protection against risks and means of improving performance of projects.
Archil noted that online gambling is a strong force that started to operate in 2004 and established itself well in the market. Thousands of unique games appear on the web and attract more and more Georgian users. One of the good criterions is availability of Georgia-themed slots from local developers.
It can therefore be concluded that the future of gambling industry in Georgia belongs to online gambling.
Summarizing the results of Georgia Gaming Congress and perspectives of gambling industry development in Georgia in general, it should be noted that Georgian gambling gives huge promises, justified by concrete facts and stories of success. Once again the overworld of gambling industry, gathered under the umbrella of Georgian Congress, has shown that each market player is ready to contribute to industry development and open new prospects. Commitment of businessmen, initiative of authorities and enthusiasm of developers will definitely bring success to gambling business.