Ambrolauri Mayor Who Is “Against Gambling” Wins Car at Bookmakers

Ambrolauri Mayor David Mkheidze, who won a bookmaker’s Porsche Cayman 2019, says he is against the promotion of gambling.

“I am neither that busy nor obsessed and I do not spend much time gambling so that it affects my work performance,” the Mayor told Netgazeti.

He explained that his account at the bookmakers was made by his cousins who were betting themselves.

“Sometimes they [cousins] bet through my profile there... I love football. I went there one evening and bought a ticket just for fun. We are all humans,” he added.

Mkheidze says that youngsters and schoolchildren should not be involved in gambling, but he says that the relatively elderly population can certainly play, if they want to.

The Mayor explains that he agrees with the initiative of a number of parliamentarians who oppose the promotion of gambling and initiated a corresponding bill that proposes changes to the Law on Advertising in this field.

MP Levan Gogichaishvili, one of the authors of a bill which says that gambling advertising should be restricted by relevant amendments to the Law on Advertising, said at the Parliament Session this week that the Mayor of Ambrolauri winning an expensive car through gambling is shameful.

“I would like to take this opportunity and congratulate the Mayor of Ambrolauri on his winning a Porsche in gambling. But this is a shameful fact… We should target this deadly industry, my colleagues. As long as this space, this industry, exists, such shameful things will happen in our country,” Gogichaishvili said at the plenary session.

The draft law prepared by lawmakers of the ruling party Georgian Dream, reads that gambling advertising in Georgia will be significantly restricted and advertising gambling through television, radio, internet and other means of communication will be prohibited. The exception applies to sponsorship, however, and only the name of the game organizer and the distribution of the logo will be permitted.

The same document reads that advertising of gambling will be forbidden in religious, children's, educational and medical institutions, culture and sports organizations (except for ads on sports outfits), as well as within a 200-meter radius of such institutions. It will be also forbidden to post any information on a gambling organization building that expands over more than 10 square meters of area.

The explanatory note states that the reason for the drafting of such a bill is the heavy social background of gambling and the reduction of risks that is attached to such games. According to the draft law, violation of the rules for the distribution of gambling and lucrative games will result in the advertiser and gambling company receiving a fine of 10,000 GEL each. In addition, if the offending advertisements are not removed, the fine will be doubled each month.

Online payments to foreign gambling and profitable games using Georgian bankcards may also be banned. The changes will prohibit all payment service providers, including commercial banks and microfinance organizations, from establishing relations with foreign gambling companies to make payments in their favor or allowing payment to a foreign gambling company with cards issued by them.

The authors of the initiative are MPs:

Levan Gogichaishvili, Irakli Beraia, Irakli Abuseridze, Goga Gulordava, Bidzina Gegidze and Tsotne Zurabiani. It is not yet known when the draft will be submitted to Parliament.

By Tea Mariamidze

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31 October 2019 16:08