The three Baltic countries: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are known for their progressive outlook and their willingness to embrace the new.
These countries have effective online gambling laws, which keep residents protected from unlicensed gambling sites.
If you are an online gambling operator, you can obtain an operator license from these three countries and run a legal online casino. If you are a player, you can play online in a safe, secure, and well-regulated environment.
Online Casino Regulation in Latvia
Latvia has a thriving gambling industry. Home to five casinos, the country’s gambling industry generated €210 million in revenues in 2015.
Ever since 2010, the amount of money Latvians are spending on games of chance has risen by 85%. No casino has been ever shut down in Latvia, and as many as 3690 Latvians are employed in its land-based casinos.
The Government of Latvia has regulated online gambling, including online poker and online casino gaming. It has licensed six operators to offer online gambling services to its residents.
In 2015, the online casino sector contributed €11.5 million to the total gambling revenue generated in the country.
The law also protects players as follows:
- Operators are not permitted to grant credit or loans for gambling.
- Loans granted on gambling venues are held to be loans granted for gambling.
- Casinos can advertise their games and services only within their venues.
- No casino can permit players to play the games for free or give away free play on games as gifts.
- Vulnerable players can request the casino to exclude them from their services for a limited period of time.
- Casinos have to make the dangers, disadvantages, and risks of gambling clear to their players.
- They should also provide support information for problem gamblers.
- The operator can only offer betting limits approved by Latvia’s regulatory authority.
- Although players are free to change the betting limits, the changes can be brought into effect only seven days after the player makes a request for the same.
- The legal gambling age in Latvia is 18.
Latvia is taking very strong steps against unlicensed operators of online casinos and their Latvian players.
Recently, the Government of Latvia amended its gambling laws to make it very difficult for its residents to gain access to offshore providers of online casinos.
The laws make it illegal for banks to process financial transactions between Latvian players and unlicensed offshore online casinos.
ISPs and banks now bear the responsibility of forwarding names of residents who attempt to deposit funds and withdraw profits from unlicensed online casinos.
Latvian winners are required to pay taxes on their winnings, and if they fail to comply with the laws, they will have to pay hefty fines.
At the time of writing, only nine operators have received the license to offer online gambling services within Latvian borders.
These include Optibet, Olympic Entertainment Group, PAF, and Betsafe. At the same time, the laws are not strong enough to prevent Latvian residents from signing up at offshore online casinos that don’t have a Latvian license.
Read also: Online Casino Regulation in the UK: Overview and Perspectives.
Online Casino Regulation in Estonia
Estonia is a small and sparsely populated country, but its residents are fond of gambling. According to the results of a recently concluded survey, 80% of the adults in Estonia have placed bets on games of chance at least once.
The country’s online gambling industry is fast gaining prominence, especially as Estonia legalized online gambling in 2010.
The government’s purpose for doing so was to boost its economy post the financial crisis the world faced in 2008.
When Estonia was part of the USSR, all forms of gambling were illegal in the country, but illegal gambling establishments continued to operate.
When the country separated from the USSR, it was eager to open its gambling market to foreign operators.
Estonia first legalized lottery games in 1991 and brought into effect the Estonian Lottery Act in 1994. The Gambling Act was enforced in 1995 in a bid to tighten the laws.
The Gambling Act of 2008 strengthened existing regulations for the land-based gambling industry and provided for the licensing and regulation of online casinos.
Today, Estonia’s gambling industry is supervised by its Ministry of Finance and Customs Chamber – https://www.emta.ee/eng/organisation-remote-gambling.
The legal age to play online casino games and place bets on sports is 21, but you can play lotteries legally at the age of 16.
Getting an Operator License in Estonia: If you want to start an online casino business within the borders of Estonia, you have to first obtain a license even if you are a company or an individual based in the EU.
Estonia permits private as well as join-stock companies to apply for its online gambling license. The companies just have to meet the regulatory requirements.
For example, offshore companies must already hold a license to operate online casino businesses and should declare a minimum share capital of €1 million.
Also, applicants have to pay a license fee of around €47,934 to run an online casino in Estonia.
Estonian gambling law requires applicants to obtain two licenses—an operating license and an activity license.
While the latter certifies that the applicant is reliable and willing to comply with the country’s gambling regulations, the latter permits applicants to run online casino games, online lotteries, and online betting services.
Activity licenses remain valid for an unspecified period of time, but operating licenses remain valid for twenty years.
Estonia does not permit unlicensed companies to run online gambling businesses in its jurisdiction. All unlicensed online casinos attempting to accept bets from Estonian residents are blocked.
Read also: Online Casino Regulation in Finland: Overview and Perspectives.
Online Casino Regulation in Lithuania
Lithuania is home to around 18 land-based casinos, all overseen by the country’s Gaming Control Authority. On Jan 1, 2016, the country amended its laws to legalize and regulate online gambling.
The Gaming Control Authority has the power to grant online gambling licenses to companies desiring to operate online casinos within Lithuania.
According to these amendments, EU operators can obtain a Lithuanian online casino license if and only if they are already operating at least one online casino, five horse betting parlours, 20 betting points, and ten slot gaming halls.
The government blacklists all unlicensed online gambling sites that attempt to interact with Lithuanian players.
To protect players from the negative impacts, Lithuania has in place a self-exclusion program. It also does not permit gambling firms to advertise their products and services to players.
Any operator breaking the advertising law will be fined up to LTL25,000. However, Lithuanian gambling laws do permit sponsorship deals.
Lithuania also has a number of support organizations for its problem gamblers and gambling addicts.
Some of these organizations include the Kaunas Center for Addictive Disorders, the Vilnius Center for Addictive Disorders, the Panevezys County Addiction Treatment Center, and the Siauliai County Dependency Treatment Center, along with a number of anonymous support groups.
The legal age to gamble in Lithuania is 18, but you have to wait till you are 21 years old to gamble in online casinos.
Read also: Online Casino Regulation in Norway: Overview and Perspectives.