Most types of gambling are permitted in Georgia (the Georgiacountry, not the GeorgiaUSstate) due to a recent loosening of the country’s gaming rules. However, as the government attempts to crack down on harmful gambling behavior, the law changed in late 2021, drastically altering the situation for many.
Read on for a breakdown of the gambling laws in Georgia as they stand right now.
Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status
In December 2011, the Georgian government legalized gambling throughout the country with the passage of Law No. 5448, which regulates lotteries, games of chance, and other prize games. In most countries, providing services requires a license that can be obtained through the Ministry of Finance.
Georgia’s gambling regulations are mostly the same as those in the rest of the country, with a few notable differences. Let’s see how the law treats various forms of gambling in this country.
Gambling In order to run a land-based casino in Georgia, business owners must first get a license. The city of Batumi, known as the “Las Vegas of the Black Sea,” is home to six of the country’s twelve casinos. While five casinos can be found in Tbilisi, the capital, the other six can be found in Batumi.
The same licensing requirements for online service providers apply to the Georgian online casino market. Many of the over 100 gambling companies licensed in Georgia provide their services online, allowing gamblers in the Peach State a wide variety of options when it comes to video poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and other popular casino games.
Poker is permitted in Georgia, both in brick-and-mortar casinos and online, though businesses providing either type of service must first obtain a license from the state. The country has a thriving offline poker scene, with cash games and tournaments happening often in the country’s casinos. Online poker is also widely available in Georgia, with a number of reputable sites to choose from.
Bingo is a form of gambling that is allowed in Georgia, however it is not often played in the state. There are sporadic bingo games offered at select Georgia casinos, but you won’t have much luck finding online bingo gambling companies that welcome Georgia residents.
Legal lottery play is regulated by the Georgian Lottery Company, which has had a 15-year monopoly license since 2009. This applies to both land-based and online lottery play for real money in Georgia. Numerous offshore gaming companies allow players from Georgia to participate in online lottery games.
Crypto-casinos, loot boxes, and social gaming
Popular kinds of gambling in recent years, such as social gaming, lootboxes, skins gambling, and similar forms of betting among younger generations, are not explicitly addressed in Georgia’s gambling regulations.
While Bitcoin is not technically outlawed in Georgia, it is also not recognized as legal cash, thus brick-and-mortar casinos and other gaming establishments cannot take it. By partnering with third-party payment processors, crypto-friendly online casinos are able to circumvent this restriction.
Legality of Sports Betting in Georgia
It is legal to wager on sports in Georgia, and people can do so at any of a number of licensed bookies. As with land-based sportsbooks, Georgians can place wagers at any number of reputable online sportsbooks.
At the moment, Georgia has no laws governing fantasy sports betting.
Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21
Until recently, Georgia’s legal gambling age was 18 for online gambling and 21 for entering land-based casinos. The gambling age will increase to 25 in 2022 under new legislation.
Because of the state’s liberal stance on gambling taxes, Georgia’s operators enjoy among of the region’s lowest rates. There has been talk of boosting the tax rate in view of the rising rates of problematic gambling behavior in the country, despite the fact that it has shifted from being applied to profits to total income and remains at a very low 10% at now.
There are also per-machine and per-table costs that might vary by location, with Tbilisi typically charging more than Batumi. Players will be subject to a 2% tax on any gambling earnings beginning in the latter half of 2021.
Georgia’s Gambling Legislation: A Brief History
Tbilisi was the site of Georgia’s first casino in 1920, but it closed soon after as Soviet authority made gambling illegal throughout the country.
In 1989, restrictions on gambling were loosened just enough to allow one casino to establish in Batumi, catering only to communist party insiders.
After regaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia saw a boom in the gambling sector. In December 2011, the country passed the Law of Georgia on Organising Lotteries, Games of Chance, and Other Prize Games No 5448.
Recent years have seen more enforcement actions taken against problem gaming. Those who receive government help (i.e. benefits) are no longer allowed to gamble, the legal gambling age was raised from 18 (21 for access to casinos) to 25 in late 2021, and operators face increasing taxes and penalties.
An Overview of Georgia’s Online Gambling Laws
Most forms of gambling are lawful in Georgia, making the state’s gambling rules very straightforward. Here are the most important takeaways:
Parimutuel betting in casinos is legitimate: A valid operating license is needed for both offline and internet businesses.
Bingo can be played legally: Casinos rarely offer the game, but the low demand means that there are hardly none of them that accept players from Georgia.
Playing poker is not illegal: Numerous online poker sites and land-based casinos host poker tournaments and cash games across the country.
Participation in lotteries is legitimate: The Georgian Lottery Company holds a monopoly on both traditional lottery games and their digital counterparts.
Legalized sports betting in Georgia includes: There is a plethora of sportsbooks available around the country, both physically and virtually.