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13.03.2013 23:23

How will the prohibition of gambling games advertisement affect the sports channels? – Interview with Levan Kubaneishvili

Nata Dzvelishvili
Interview

Advertisement of gambling games may be prohibited as initiated by majority MP Koba Davitashvili.  Parliament has already approved the given draft law in first hearing.  Authors of the draft law believe that such prohibition will decrease addiction of population to gambling games. 

What problems may prohibition of such advertisement cause to sports channels and what results will this legislative change bring? – Media.ge spoke on the given topic with GMG TV-Company Director General Levan Kubaneishvili. 

- Mr. Levan, how do you think, the legislative change that provides for prohibition of advertisement of gambling games will affect the sports media? 

- It will cause loss to sports in general; both in Georgian and foreign viewpoint.  The law was adopted in first hearing in the form that advertisement of gambling games in any possible form is to be prohibited.  Real Madrid football club has a betting company logo on its uniform.  During broadcasting of English football championship games the betting indexes changes are reflected on advertisement banners; with this new prohibition we will not be able to broadcast Real Madrid, or English championship games. 

Along with that when purchasing rights for airing big sports events such as the Champions League, tennis or basketball championships there is a request that you must air advertisement of main sponsors.  For example if we take the Champions League; before games start there are advertisements of Heineken, Ford and now Gazprom and we also air these advertisements on our channel.  If one day there will be an advertisement of some betting company, which is quite realistic and logical, according to this law, we will not be able to air the Champions League.  They will not make contract with us otherwise.  It is also ridiculous and we will not be able to make them believe that something like this is prohibited in our country. 

- What is going on in Georgian sports in this view? 

- Prize pool of the Georgian football championship comes from Europe Bet, so it is represented at all the games conducted within the championship.  With the new changes we will not be able to air these games.  In case if there will be the Europe Bet banner behind those holding a post-game press-conference we will be fined, as it will be an advertisement.  The given betting company will not have the right to air advertisement during the match. 

They will have a logical question; why should a company fund a championship if it will not have any feedback from it?  Naturally the Football Federation will also face some problems, as I am confident that a chocolate company will never allocate advertisement with them.  Our advertisement market is not developed enough for other types of companies to show interest to sponsoring the given championship.  Basketball championship is also sponsored by Adjarabet betting company. 

- What is the approximate share of bookmakers companies at Georgian advertisement market? 

- Last year the share was larger; Play Adjara used to allocate advertisements.  Today the share is approximately 5-7% at advertisement market.  Advertisement revenues have decreased this year and with the given change they will decrease even further. 

GMG is more specific; the given share is even larger, but advertisement is not our main source of revenues.  It may affect our revenues in some way but I am more worried with the fact that all three sports channels (Football, Sports, Sports 2) may not exist anymore. 

- Authors of the changes believe that such prohibition will decrease addiction of population of gambling games. 

- I heard some pathetic expressions that we have seen many families broken up because of this.  There are no families broken up due to legal bookmakers companies.  If you have only GEL 5 on your account you will not be able to play a lot.  But I have seen many families broken up because of illegal betting.  When you play for virtual money once you lose you have to really pay after.  With legal bookmakers you cannot bet if you don’t have real money. 

It is nonsense to try to control the Internet; for example for someone not to be able to log on to London bookmaking company and play.  Today you start with this, tomorrow you will want to control other things and finally you will get to Internet control.  Nobody is against prohibition of casino advertisements. 

- Do you, or any other sports events advertise casinos? 

- Casinos are not advertised anywhere.  Koba Davitashvili must understand that casino, lottery and bookmakers are different from each other.  Even by Georgian legislation if you want to found a bookmaking company, or a casino you have to purchase different types of licenses.  In the new draft law everything is united together.  Meanwhile there is no phenomenon of “gambling games license.” 

In today’s world bookmaking and sports are indivisible.  The given law will promote only one thing – creation of illegal bookmaking in the country.  You can never prohibit people to gamble.  Gamblers will gamble anyway; illegally, in worse forms, for more money and with tragic results. 

- What do you think the optical solution to the given issue is? 

- The best solution would be to separate bookmaking from gambling and for bookmaking advertisements to be allowed during sports events.  This will promote the fact that they will fund sports events and Georgian and foreign sports will not vanish from Georgian TV screens. 

- Did they contact you, or bookmaking companies when the issue of the new draft low came out; did they invite you into discussion? 

- Nobody has contacted me and I do not have any information; Parliament has not shown interest to meeting with representatives of the given sphere.

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