The future of Topaz, the biggest sports betting operator in Azerbaijan could be in danger, if parliamentary moves against it succeed
The biggest sports betting operator in Azerbaijan is Topaz. Apart from providing the country’s population with sports betting offers, the company is actively involved in supporting development of various sports in Azerbaijan.
According to 2012 changes in Azerbaijani Tax Code, gamers who have profited from taking part in legal sports betting activities in Azerbaijan, are exempt from paying income tax on those winnings.
However, in March 2013, some of the parliamentary members demanded for all sports betting outlets to be closed down. This was primarily based on the growing numbers of problem gamblers in the country, especially among young people. There were even complaints from mothers and wives of young people, who gambled away their life savings and apartments.
Opposition in the parliament
Milli Medjlise, MoP, stated that under the leadership of the President of Azerbaijan, a state program is being realized to develop regions, enact sporting and youth recreation venues, but all these measures are put at risk by the growing dependence of young people on gambling.
Ms. Medjlise commented: “Topaz is growing with the speed of a cancer”. Her colleague, Fazil Mustafa, has supported her and noted that Topaz has become the reason not only of bankruptcy for many, but also for many failed marriages.
Mustafa said: ”This is most probably connected with low level of information available about the dangers of gambling, thus we need to host active propaganda against gambling activities among young people.”
Parliamentary Speaker, Oktaj Asadov, said that this question will be thoroughly studied, and all necessary measures will be taken to diminish the problem gambling among young people.
Currently, Topaz is growing steadily under the current Azerbaijani gambling laws and is one of the best performing companies in the country. Regular races with betting opportunities are being hosted at various horseracing tracks in the capital, Baku as well as in Gabalinsky region.