The FINANCIAL — Online gambling is rapidly developing in Georgia. The number of posters of newly established companies on Tbilisi’s streets has doubled recently.
Owners of online casinos claim that demand for the service has increased because not all poker fans can visit real casinos that often. Online games are affordable without leaving the house and a player can start playing with minimal cash. The only requirement for playing online games is having access to the internet.
“It is like a drug. When I play online casino I do not feel the time passing,” said Nikoloz, 23, who plays online casino when he is at work, at home, with his friends, anytime and anywhere.
“The popularity of online games is increasing. Internet access is growing; the number of internet users is increasing at the same time. Many locals prefer online games to visiting a real casino. Georgians are very reckless,” said Nazim Izmailov, Executive Director of Europe-bet.
Launching an online casino business is easier in Georgia than getting an international license, one of the rapidly developing online casino’s owners told The FINANCIAL. Georgian legislation requires a five million GEL license for casino registration. This fee allows you to run a real casino which is obligatory for running an online casino.
“Online games are a very fast growing market. These games are becoming very popular in Georgia,” said Oto Shalikashvili, CMO of Adjarabet. “We have 30,000 likes on facebook. Out of this number we have 95 percent daily involvement. That means that the majority of the people who like us on facebook are our clients. We have over hundreds of thousands of active players who play at least once a month,” he added.
“The development of social networks has supported the popularity of online games. People like to compete with each other. Georgians are very excitable and erudite. So they play well-crafted, intellectual games. Poker is a game of skill and not a game of luck. Therefore it is the most popular online game in Georgia,” Shalikashvili added.
The increase in gambling has caused the entry of new players on the market. Lariwin has been operating in Georgia since September 2011. “Gambling has a wide range of users in Georgia. Most people who are already eighteen years old begin to play online games. This new generation adds to the older players in the country and that increases the total number of gambling players,” said Bacho Gviniashvili, Director of Lariwin. “International research shows that this increase will continue till 2016. I would say that higher growth is expected in Georgia than abroad. If for example the number of players increases by eight percent in the world, it increases two times more here. Economical opportunities in Georgia are much higher now than in previous years as well,” said Gviniashvili.
“To start with we brought online casino and poker to the market. Then as demand increased we added a new product – totalizator. We are oriented on high quality and the newest games. These are intellectually high-level games. We create a product that gives us profit,” he added.
Turnover and financial issues are confidential, but Gviniashvili admits that this business is very profitable in Georgia. “Georgians are very excitable and that is why this business is becoming profitable here. Different products have been created by the rise in this sort of gambling, a lot of advertisements and specialized TV shows perfectly demonstrate the profitability of the gambling business in Georgia. While there is demand there will be supply and this business will be profitable for suppliers as well,” he added.
Gambling is not only profitable for the company, but for players as well. “For example online poker can be considered a regular source of income. The amount of potential income is unlimited. What’s unique about the game of poker is that one does not need to be lucky, the key is in the player’s own strategy and discipline,” said Shalikashvili.
“Players will not lose a significant amount of money. We want our clients to have fun whilst playing and not to lose. We want them to win. Our interest is in lots of people playing online games. This is linked to our financial interests as well. From every shuffle we get a percentage because we have managed the play. So we need to have as many players as possible. The more players that play the more profit the company has,” said Gviniashvili.
Besides the fact that gambling is a profitable business in Georgia, Italian online casino Camelut left the Georgian market because of bankruptcy just two years ago. The FINANCIAL was told that Camelut had financial problems, but Fulvio Fabiani, Technical Director, cited other reasons. “The financial problems were not caused by the Georgian market experiencing difficulties. The real reason was that one of the owner’s sons took the whole amount of money and left Georgia,” said Fabiani.
“Every market in every country is ready for this type of product. The only necessity is to suit the taste of local players. In addition, it is necessary to properly interface with the payment system used in the country. This is a very profitable business. What’s important is to put investments in to advertisements and find a simple system of payments for the players,” he added.