Latvia has legalized internet gambling
Since the country began blocking the domains of offshore gaming sites in 2014, it has been abundantly clear that Latvia is committed to building a secure and stringently regulated business for its native gamblers. Over many years, the country has struggled to generate revenue from the regulated online gambling industry.
However, Latvia reported that its online gambling industry grew to a total of €12.4 million in the first three months of 2019, representing a 35.4 percent increase year on year. Overall gambling revenue in the United States increased by 15.5 percent year on year in the first three months of 2019.
The numbers were released by the IAUI, Latvia’s inspection agency that oversees lotteries and gambling. Meanwhile, Riga is continuing its crusade to rid the city and its surrounding areas of gambling by closing hundreds of betting halls and revoking the licenses of hundreds more.
Latvia Q1 2019 Gambling Statistics
During the first quarter of the year, the following events stood out as particularly noteworthy in Latvia’s entire gambling market:
- The industry’s most important subsectors expanded across the board.
- In comparison to the first quarter of 2018, when revenue was calculated at €67.2 million, overall market revenue in the second quarter of 2018 was calculated at €77.5 million.
- Gaming revenue increased from $63.5 million in the first quarter of 2018 to €73.4 million in the same period this year.
- Slot machines are by far the most popular form of entertainment in Latvia.
- Gaming machines generated €56,4 million in revenue for licensed gambling businesses in the first three months of 2018. This year, that figure increased by 12.6% to €50 million, bringing it to a round figure.
- The gambling tables, which included blackjack and roulette, contributed €3.9 million to the overall revenue, representing a 6.4 percent increase over the previous year.
- The total amount of money won in bingo increased by approximately 45 percent to €73,000
- The figures for online gaming were similarly encouraging: Out of a total income of €12.4 million:
- The total included €8.4 million in wagers placed via online casinos (an increase of 39.2 percent year on year)
- The licensees made a profit of €3.5 million from internet betting (27.1 percent growth year on year)
- Money won in online card games increased by 15.8 percent year on year, reaching 73,000 euros.
Latvia prioritizes the protection of its customers and residents
Consumer Protection in EU Online Gambling Regulation was the subject of a review published in December of the previous year by the European Betting and Betting Association (EGBA). Latvia was mentioned twice in the report as an example of a country that follows consumer protection principles.
Latvia is cited in one instance, along with five other countries and another six countries, for having a stringent approach to the process of player authentication. Some countries allow players to create temporary accounts until the verification process is completed. The governments of Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Finland, Portugal, Lithuania, and Slovakia, on the other hand, do not allow online gambling sites to operate until the verification process is completed.
In the second case, Latvia was praised for having the highest level of consumer protection possible through advertising restrictions. Only advertisements for casinos and other gambling establishments are permitted to be displayed in Latvia, making it the only country in the world to do so.
Latvia’s Struggle to Prevent Illegal Online Gambling
For many years, Latvia has fought to prevent offshore gambling companies from entering its market. Since August of 2014, the IAUI has blocked access to 1,156 domain names and approximately 2,500 IP addresses. Throughout the first three months of 2019, the regulatory body did not relax its oversight. In total, 68 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and 41 domain names were barred from entering this 2 million-person country.
Legislators approved several novel amendments, which went into effect in April of this year. It will no longer be legal for Latvians to place bets at foreign online casinos or gambling websites after the revisions to the gambling rules go into effect. It will be illegal for offshore businesses that do not have a license to operate in Latvia to provide services to Latvian residents.
Anyone caught gambling online at an illegal site faces a fine of up to €350 for each wager placed. In the future, it will be in the best interests of the players to play only at officially licensed Latvian betting sites.
ISPs who are aware that a specific website is in violation of gambling regulations but fail to report it to the appropriate authorities risk being considered complicit in the activity and could face a €20,000 fine. An Internet service provider (ISPbusiness )’s license may be revoked in certain circumstances.
Land-based casinos are also being targeted by authorities
Not only are online casinos on the regulatory authorities’ radar screens these days. Furthermore, betting halls and casinos are subject to strict regulation.
The Riga municipal council was the driving force behind an extreme plan at the beginning of this year that will eventually result in the revocation of all gaming hall licenses in the surrounding area. According to a proposal supported by the City Council’s Security, Public Order, and Corruption Prevention Committee, the planned order will cancel the licenses of approximately 200 halls in the capital. This will occur in the coming days.
Riga’s fight against gambling dens is not a new development. Since 2011, the municipal council has not issued licenses to any newly constructed facilities that have applied for one. Local authorities targeted the city’s historic district in 2017 and demanded the closure of 42 gambling establishments. At this time, the only casinos that can be considered secure are those that are attached to four or five-star hotels.
Local governments in Latvia have the authority under the law to revoke gaming licenses from establishments that they believe pose a risk to the local population. In terms of its objectives, the council is completely transparent.
Nils Isakov, Mayor of Riga, stated that this is a responsibility that must be met. “In 2017, we took the first step toward our goal by prohibiting casinos from operating within the city’s historic district.” While this is going on, it is abundantly clear that the gambling problem is at its worst in Riga’s residential areas. As a result, the municipal government of Riga is obligated to do everything in its power to put an end to all forms of gambling in the city.
The most recent actions taken by the Riga city council have sparked some public outrage. According to the Association of Hotels and Restaurants, the closure of gambling halls will be detrimental to those who have invested large sums of money to establish their businesses. This has sparked some public outrage.