Latvia’s Gambling Industry is Thriving in 2019
Latvia is seeing some major revenue earnings from its gambling market. Officials here have set strict regulations on online gambling, yet land-based operations are thriving. It’s fantastic news for a country that’s not known as a gaming hotspot in Europe. Will Latvia’s gambling industry continue to thrive in the future?
Lawmakers here are constantly setting new restrictions over the online and land-based gaming market. Based on new reports, these regulations are paying off. Today, we’re going to explain how this market is growing so quickly, and what to expect here in the next few years.
Evolution of Gambling Laws in Latvia
Latvia gained full independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The country’s gambling industry was largely unregulated before this time. In 1998, government officials here established the first true set of gambling laws, named the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection.
That year, the government created the Control Department to oversee the gambling industry. This group collects tax fees from gaming operators. The Licensing and Financial Analysis Division of the government is responsible for granting licenses to casino operators in the country.
The same set of gambling laws here remained for several years. In 2005, Latvia launched the Gambling and Lotteries Law. This created a new framework for both land-based and online gambling companies to legally operate inside the country.
All gambling companies that want to offer services in Latvia must now obtain a license from the government. Today, there are many brick-and-mortar casinos operating throughout the country. Only a handful of legal online gambling websites are available. Fortunately, the casino industry here is thriving.
Latvia’s Gambling Industry Looks Strong in Early 2019
The government of Latvia has worked hard to better regulate its gambling industry. The majority of casinos here are located in the capital city of Riga. Almost all of them offer traditional gaming options including slots, table games, and gambling machines.
The latter of these gaming options is proving to be the most profitable. Gambling machines took in over €56.4 million in revenue over the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 12.6% from the same period last year. Table games brought in €3.9 million this quarter, up 6.4% from 2018.
Overall, revenue from Latvia’s gambling industry has increased by 15.3% during the first quarter of 2019. It’s a very promising figure for a country with a population of just 1.95 million people. The legal online gambling operations here are still far behind most Western-European nations.
During the first quarter of 2019, Latvia’s online gambling market brought in €3.5 million. This represents an increase of 27.1% from the first quarter of 2018. Lawmakers are continuing to work on stopping illegal online gambling operations inside the country.
New Restrictions on Latvia’s Online Gambling Industry
In April of 2019, Latvia’s Parliament approved plans to stop citizens from playing at unregulated online gambling websites. The government has made it clear that companies are prohibited from offering services to Latvian players without a license to do so. Despite this, a number of unregulated online gaming operators continue to operate here.
Under the new laws, Latvian banks can no longer process payments between players and websites that are not directly approved by the government. Furthermore, internet service providers in Latvia must report any citizens that attempt to play through unregulated gambling websites. It’s one of the most dramatic steps that a country has taken to curb illegal online gaming operations.
Nine different online gambling sites in Europe have permission to operate inside Latvia. As time goes on, it seems likely that more of the top European gaming companies will obtain licenses to operate here.
Latvia’s gambling industry is in a great position right now. Both online and land-based gambling operations here are thriving. If the trend continues, this country may soon be considered one of the top gambling destinations in Eastern Europe.
How long will gambling revenue increase in this country? Will the online gambling industry here begin earning as much as the land-based operations? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!
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