Turkish President Slams Turks Visiting Georgian CasinosSeptember 16, 2016 12:00 pm
Turkey banned casinos in 1998, while in neighboring Georgia there are numerous land-based casinos operating throughout the country. In 2012, Turkey and Georgia subsequently signed a protocol facilitating easier movement of people across their mutual border, but now it appears the Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan is having second thoughts on the issue.
At the heart of his grievance is the fact Turks now appear to be heading towards Geogian casinos in their droves, leading the Turkish President this week to suggest to the Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili that he should consider shutting down those casinos located near the Turkish border.
While Ivanishvili expressed some sympathy for Erdogan’s concerns, he also let him know that it was not his decision to make. There is also the matter of the millions spent by tourists visiting the casinos, especially those situated on Turkey’s northeastern border in the city of Batumi on the Black Sea.
Batumi alone has 11 licensed casinos, in contrast to the country’s capital of Tbilisi where there are only three. In addition to the US$108k fee each Batumi casinos pay for an annual gaming license, the municipal also derives 81% of its $8.7m gambling revenues and taxes, from these casino operations.
Needless to say, Georgia is unlikely to want to see such an important source of revenue dry up, although since the failed coup in Turkey on July 15/16th of this year, all indications show that the flow of Turks across the border has slowed dramatically. This is likely due to speculation that the uncertain political situation following the coup may have forced Turkey to tighten its border with neighboring countries.
The Turkish President’s request to the Georgian government is not just restricted to casinos, though, and Erdogan is also requesting that schools associated with Fethullah Gülenman, the man he believes responsible for the failed coup, should also be shut.