Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Estonia
Gambling in Estonia started in 1994-1995 when the first Lottery Act, 1994 and the first Gambling Act, 1995 came into force. Online gambling services were unregulated at first. The latest Gambling Act (2008) provided legal basis for the regulation of online gambling.
The Gambling Act, 1995 introduced four types of gambling (games of chance, games of skill, totalizators, and betting). The new Gambling Act (https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/113032019056) which came into force on January 1, 2009 annulled the two previous acts and regulates gambling in Estonia now. According to the Act, all gambling companies must have a license to set up a gambling venue and offer gambling services. Gambling operators may also engage in the activities related to the gambling business (catering, currency exchange, leisure and cultural activities). The Estonian Tax and Customs Board (https://www.emta.ee/) deals with all gambling related issues in Estonia.
Land Based Gambling
Four main land-based gambling operators operate in Estonia nowadays: OÜ Novoloto under the brand name Fenikss (https://www.fenikss.ee/en); Olympic Casino Eesti AS, a subsidiary of Olympic Entertainment Group (https://www.olympic-casino.com/); OÜ Best4U by CityCasino (https://citycasino.ee); Grand Prix Casino OÜ under the brand name Casino GrandPrix (https://www.grandprix.ee). These gambling operators have casinos and slot halls in different Estonian cities. Aktsiaselts PAFER under the brand name PAF (http://www.paf.com/) provides gambling and betting activities aboard Estonian passenger ships.
A typical casino in Estonia offers popular international table games and slot and video gaming machines. Casinos also offer a de-addiction program for their visitors. The legal gambling age for playing at a casino is 21. People under the age of 21 may stay only in a casino located aboard a cruise ship registered in the Estonian Ship Register, where the maximum possible bet in a single game is EUR 10 and the maximum winnings per game are EUR 2,000. Permitting a person under 21 to play is punishable by a fine of up to EUR 2,600 (https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/113032019056). Estonian casinos follow strict gambling rules and security regulations.
There are numerous slot halls scattered throughout Estonian cities. Over 35 of them operate in Tallinn. Estonian cruise ships also have their “casinos”. Many Estonian slot halls are known as the ‘Play-In-Casino’ because they only offer slot or video gaming machines and electronic roulettes. The law allows smoking only in designated smoking areas. The gambling age is 21. The entrance is free. The dress code is casual. Estonian play-in casinos operate daily. Those in Tallinn are usually open 24/7.
Online gambling became legal in Estonia in 2009. First, only local sites were allowed to offer their gambling services online. Later, Estonia opened its gambling market to offshore operators, on condition that they would get licenses from the Estonian authority. Estonia also started blocking unlicensed gambling sites that tried to offer their services to Estonian citizens. Over ten licensed online operators are active in Estonia now.
There are different age restrictions for different forms of online gambling: under 21s may not gamble in an online casino, under 18s may not play the sports totalizer, the lottery must not be played by under 16s. The Gambling Act demands an average payout in an online game of over 80% of the total stake. Winnings from a remote gambling game cannot exceed EUR 50.