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Sakartvelo’s new trouble - gambling addiction2009-11-09 15:21
For the US mafia's business gambling has always been on top of the list. However the US law makers - the Congress and the Senate - that serve as a specimen for "building democracy" around the globe decided to protect the middle class and marginal population from the temptation to stretch luck by placing all casinos and other gambling establishments in a desert with the mafia setting up its most glorious and most vicious flower named Las Vegas.
Georgia doesn't need its own Las Vegas. Owing to comparatively high tariffs for casino licenses (GEL 5 mln, i.e. a bit less than USD 3 mln) there are only two gambling houses in Tbilisi. But the number of slot machine halls is sprouting like mushrooms after summer rains in the Georgian capital.
Mikheil Saakashvili, so proud of "exports" of the Georgian "mafia bosses" to Russia doesn't object to the gambling business. Though its criminal background is no secret to anyone. However for the Georgian capital gambling returns make a considerable part of the budget incomes.
It's possible that annually gambling business brings millions into the city treasury. But nobody has ever analyzed what this passion for games means for the society. Particularly teenagers ready to run into debts are exposed to compulsive gambling. And it's their parents who have to pay for their uncontrollable children.
There are no limitations on this kind of establishments. A slot machine saloon can be located near a church or a school. And no Georgian law maker cares about that. On the contrary, gambling business was given "green light". Annual license fee needed to run a gambling saloon is GEL 20 thousand (nearly USD 11886) and only GEL 12 thousand (USD 7131) outside Tbilisi. On official information Tbilisi hosts over half of all gambling rooms in the country.
In the nearest future hotels too will be able to make profit on evil passion of Georgians. According to Lasha Tordia, first deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on legal issues and a member of the United National Movement ruling party, now the law draft that allows 100-room hotel owners to open a casino without applying for annual license is under examination. Taxes per each casino table will be frozen for two years. The law is likely to be adopted.
According to Mr. Tordia gambling business is one of the state's main ways to refill the budget.
"We have heard of no problems with gambling business", - he asserts.