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Latvia to Introduce New Measures Against Unauthorized Gambling Sites
- April 18, 2019 By Riley Wilson -
Earlier this month, Latvian parliament amended the current gaming laws in this Baltic country, with changes aimed at limiting Latvians from accessing unauthorized online gaming operators offering their services to local customers.
Under the provisions of these amendments, banks are prohibited from processing transactions between Latvians and websites operating without a proper license.
More Pressure on Customers and ISPs
Financial institutions and internet service providers (ISPs) are obliged by law to inform the authorities if someone even tries to make a transaction involving an unauthorized website. All those caught in making payments to internationally licensed operators will face an administrative fine of up to €350.
Additional fines include punishments for avoiding taxation on any winnings made online, which is currently set at 23% for all sums exceeding €3,000.
ISPs will face additional pressure from the authorities to comply with orders to blacklist and unauthorized gambling websites. So far, the country’s gambling watchdog – the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of Latvia – has blocked more than 1,500 gambling sites, although ISPs have only blocked less than 30% of them.
Market Grew in 2018
A total of nine operators have been given the green light to offer online gambling to residents of Latvia. Their list includes Olympic Entertainment Group, Optibet, Betsafe, PAF and 11.lv. All nine operators combined generated €41.1 million in revenue during the last year, which represents an improvement of 45% when compared to 2017 (€28.3 million). Casino games accounted for nearly 50% of the total sum (€27.6 million).
Some estimates say that foreign-based operators may account for more than 60% of the country’s entire online market, which is why their influence needs to be reduced.
Latvian biggest gambling operator Optibet confirmed just last week in wold add poker to its online offering, following a partnership deal with GGNetwork. The two companies have a long history of working together, and this move should further strengthen their ties.
In the meantime, the country’s land-based gambling industry is suffering from the decision of the local authorities in Riga to close slot halls in the capital’s central district. A total of 163 such facilities should be closed in the next five years, while only two located in hotels will remain in operation.