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Gambling is more popular than shopping for groceries in the Republic of Georgia, according to the national statistics service.
A new report in Georgian media outlet Akhali Taoba quoted Sakstat figures that found gambling business spending totaled GEL5.65b (US$2.3b) in 2017, up from GEL4.2b in 2016 and just GEL2.1 in 2015. Meanwhile, last year’s total expenditure in Georgia’s ‘non-retail’ stores aka supermarkets was only GEL4.1b.
Experts are mentioning these numbers as further proof that the Georgian government needs to get a hold of the evidently out-of-control gambling industry.
These same critics want the government to get on with its previously stated plans to rein in gambling operators, but the government now appears more interested in ensuring it gets its proper cut of gambling revenue.
But these critics are reading the stats wrong, according to statistician Soso Archvadze, who pointed out that a great many of the individuals gambling in Georgian casinos are foreign tourists, including the hordes of Turks who flood across the border in search of the pleasures denied to them in their native land.
As such, the sum gambled by Georgians is significantly below the headline figures. Archvadze said native Georgians have spent a total of GEL9b on gambling since 2011, for an annual average of GEL1.3b ($528m), or about GEL325 ($133) for each of Georgia’s 4m citizens.
That said, Sakstat did find that three of the top revenue-generating firms in Georgia last year were betting companies: Europe-Bet (owned by Betsson AB), Leader-bet and Crystalbet (the latter was recently acquired by UK operator GVC Holdings).
Source: European Gaming Industry News