When you think about gambling hotspots in Europe, probably the last place to come to mind is Latvia. Surprisingly, the gambling market in Latvia has turned into a major source of revenue for the tiny country. While online gambling is heavily regulated, land-based casinos are thriving. But why is that? We will take a closer look at what is happening in the gambling landscape in Latvia and share with you a few things you need to know about the gambling regulations there, but first, a little history lesson.
The History of Gambling Laws In Latvia
It was in 1991 when Latvia gained full independence from the Soviet Union. Before that time, gambling was mostly unregulated. It was in 1998 when the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection came into law. This became the standard for all gambling sites to follow. Later in the same year, the Latvian government established the Control Department as a regulatory body of the gambling industry. The department has many responsibilities including collecting tax fees from gambling operators. Another department, the Licensing and Financial Analysis Division, became responsible for granting licenses to Latvian gambling operators. By this point, the gaming industry was better controlled and generating a decent stream of revenue for the government.
Things To Know About The Gambling Regulation In Latvia
Now that you have a better understanding of the history of gambling laws in Latvia, here are a few things you should be aware of regarding them.
1 – The Gambling and Lotteries Law
Gambling laws in Latvia saw little change until 2005. That was when the Gambling and Lotteries Law was launched. The main purpose of this law was to create a new framework for all gambling operations (land-based and online) so that they could legally do business within the country. This paved the way for a licensing process that takes gambling operators to the government to apply for legal documentation. The change resulted in only a few online gambling sites getting licensed, but many land-based casinos followed suit which has led to a boom in the gambling industry in Latvia.
2 – Gambling Machines Generate The Most Revenue
The capital city of Latvia is Riga. This is home to the majority of land-based casinos in the country. Most of them provide the traditional gambling games you would expect in a casino including slots, table games, and gambling machines. Gambling machines are the most profitable generating over 56.4-million Euros in revenue in the 2019 Q1. That’s an increase of 12.6% from the same period the previous year. Table games, by comparison, generated 3.9-million Euros in 2019 Q1, up 12.6% from the same time frame in 2018. However, online gambling operations lag behind compared to other Western European countries.
3 – 2019 Saw Changes To Online Gambling
Latvia’s parliament approved a plan in early 2019 that would prevent Latvians from accessing unregulated (non-licensed by the Latvian government) online gambling sites. The government made a clear statement that without proper licensing to operate within the country, online gambling sites would be banned for public use. However, there are still some unlicensed gambling sites in operation. With the new laws in place, Latvian banks are forbidden to process payments of players conducting financial business with online sites that are not licensed by the government.
4 – Players Using Illegal Sites To Be Reported
To add further control over Latvian gamblers accessing illegal gaming sites, the Government of Latvia has implemented a system where internet providers who discover players attempting to access illegal online gambling sites are to report the incidents to the authorities. While that may seem a bit on the harsh side, it is an indication of how online gambling is viewed by the Latvian government. With the bulk of gaming revenue coming from land-based casinos (all of which are legally licensed) it just makes sense that the government would make every attempt to clamp down on unlicensed online sites.
5 – There Are Some Online Sites
As heavy-handed as the Latvian government appears to be regarding online gambling, they have licensed a handful of European internet gaming sites to operate within Latvia. However, with the success that has come from land-based casinos, the gamblers in Latvia will likely see more brick-and-mortar sites popping up since they generate so much additional revenue for the government. Will online gambling sites thrive in Latvia? That is a tough one to answer as the Latvian government recently rejected amendments to the gambling law. To find legal online slots to play in Latvia, visit LV BET Slots.
Although Latvia is probably not what the average gambler would consider a hot spot for gambling, the interesting thing is that gambling is big business in the tiny European country. It is such big business that the Latvian government implemented laws in the late 1990s to help regulate the industry. With many land-based casinos in operation, most of which are located within the capital city of Riga, the government is raking in a great deal of additional revenue generated through gambling. However, the industry has exploded to the point where online gambling sites have popped up and are stealing away Latvian players from land-based sites. Largely unlicensed, the online sites have come under fire by the government which has forced all gambling sites to be licensed.
To ensure that residents stay away from unlicensed online gambling sites, the Latvian government has instructed banks to not process funds from illegal online sites and internet providers are to report customers found to be accessing these sites. With fines of up to 350 Euros per incident, it is obvious that the government is serious about preventing potential revenue from flowing out of the country to unauthorized gambling website operators. As harsh as it sounds, it also makes sense. If the government hopes to gain more revenue from licensed land-based casinos, halting the activity not going to them or licensed online sites is the best way to keep all that gambling revenue within the country where it can do the most good instead of leaking to somewhere else.