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Gov’t to make list of gambling addicts

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, November 6
The Georgian government is going to make a list of people addicted to gambling, which will be valid for three years, and those on the list will not be allowed to play in casinos or gamble online.

The initiative is included in the draft law prepared by the Ministry of Finance and the list will be produced by the Revenue Service Agency, which functions under the Finance Ministry.

The list of gambling addicts will include only the data of Georgian citizens. There are two ways of including a person in the list: the addict asks for it himself, or by the order of the court.

Gambling addicts will stay on the list for three years and will be excluded pre-term only after the order of the Court.

The amendments to the Code of Administrative Procedure envisage that the family members of the gambling addict has the right to appeal to the court, asking to include that person on the list of gambling-addicts. The application should include concrete evidence and facts that the person is really a gambling addict.

Appealing the first instance court decision is possible at the Court of Appeals, but the decision made by this court is final.

Moreover, the age barrier will increase and only people aged 21 or more will be allowed in gambling halls.

The draft law also envisages the amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations. It will be punishable to allow the persons involved in the gambling addicts list to enter gambling halls and play again.

In particular, allowing people on the list to the gambling halls or to online gambling websites will result in a 5,000 GEL fine for the owners of such websites or gambling halls. In case of admitting the same gambling addicts to such places repeatedly, the fine increases up to 10,000 GEL.

After the draft bill is adopted, all gambling halls will be tasked to check the ID cards of all gamblers, in order to avoid admission of people included in the special list.

The main aim of the initiative is to avoid increased cases of suicide due to gambling debts.

“We need these changes because it is clear we have problems in the country in this regard,” Irakli Sesiashvili, Chair of Defense and Security Committee of Parliament stated.

However, the opposition parties believe the initiative will not bring any positive changes.

The United National Movement (UNM) party believes gambling addicts need help, not punishment.

“This initiative creates risks that people on the list might become victims of psychological or other types of pressure,” UNM member Roman Gotsiridze said.

The experts believe the initiative might be followed by some serious risks, such as increasing the number of illegal gambling halls.