Gambling Publicity Faces Ban
21 March, 2013
Gambling Publicity Faces Ban
Very likely, advertizing of gambling business will be banned soon in Georgia for philanthropic approach of majority faction of Parliament that it wants to save young generation and persons addicted to gambling. Sector pundits warn the ban may lead some advertising companies to bankruptcy and the state budget to significant losses while the gambling-addicts may pursue their vicious habits without problem. The bill prohibiting advertisement of gambling business in Georgia has already been approved by first parliamentary hearing in spite
of desperate outcry of gambling business and economic analysts outside the parliament hailing the legislative body to refer to restrictions instead the ban that may affect advertising companies, the add-focused media and sport game broadcasts sponsored by gambling businesses in fact. Even some majority MPs oppose the ban idea and side restrictions but the overwhelming majority weighs down the scale.
“My personal approach was to restrict advertisements of gambling businesses and allow them to be on only in late hours from 12.00 am to early morning time but the overwhelming majority voted for the ban, and most probably this line will prevail ultimately,” Davit Onoprishvili, Head of Finance and Budget Committee at parliament, told Georgian Journal.
But this is just a cone of the iceberg threatening to gambling business. The final purpose of upholders of the anti-gambling campaign in Georgia led by Koba Davitashvili, a majori ty MP initiating the bill prohibiting advertisement of gambling business, and supported by non-governmental organizations is to ban gambling business ultimately. They believe the ban will save young people and gambling-addicts from plunging into debts leading to fatal outcomes like suicides and impoverishing families.
Protesting voices call the anti-gambling campaign populist and focused on diverting attention from real social and economic problems for a ban will only make the gambling business clandestine channeling now legalized gambling profits abroad through the on-line casinos and slot-clubs that will be a serious impact on Georgian budgetary incomes and economy at large but no cure to gambling-addicts. According to Levan Akhvlediani, Head of Association of Gambling Business, gambling business pays GEL 140 million in the state budget yearly that will disappear. Moreover, around GEL 500 million will be a tentative loss inflicted on Georgian economy indirectly as tourist inflow will dwindle affecting the tourism-related infrastructure. Owners of big casinos in Tbilisi assure over 70% of their visitors is made of tourists. Georgian economic analysts believe gambling is a trump card to Georgia to attract tourists as far as gambling banned in all neighboring countries [Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia] except Armenia. But even Armenian tourists come to Georgia for gambling opportunities as stakes are bigger here for bigger turnover of gamblers, Ditrikh Muller, a co-founder of Georgian Investment Group, explains. To spare young people from the temptation Muller as well as most Georgian analysts including Prime Minister of Georgia are for discharging big cities from gambling business and creation of special zones in about 30-50 kilometers distance.
“Due to political tension Azeri and Turkish gamblers shun Armenia and come to Georgia. Now when Russians are also allowed to come to Georgia we can attract tourists chasing gambling opportunities from southern part of Russia too. It is very important for hotel and tourism development in Georgia. A ban is no way-out, if rich people want to spend their money they will find other ways like internet or go to underground business. So let’s allow them to spend money legally at special zones,” Muller said.
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