Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Latvia
The gambling market in Latvia began its development in early 1990s when the country gained its independence. In 1991, the first casino was registered in Latvia. But there was no legislation or state control, so the development of the Latvian gambling market was spontaneous and unregulated (https://www.iaui.gov.lv/en/).
According to the Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection, the gambling revenue in the first half of 2019 amounted to over EUR 146,5 million. Online gambling revenue amounted to nearly EUR 25,4 million while casino revenue increased and totaled over EUR 18 million. The revenue from gaming tables was more than EUR 8 million (http://www.la.lv/25-miljoni-strauji-aug-latvijas-kompaniju-ienemumi-no-azartspelem-interneta).
At the end of June 2019, 8,643 slot machines (in 308 gaming halls and five casinos), 15 roulette tables and 46 card tables were in operation in Latvia.
The Gambling and Lotteries Law, 2005 (http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=122941) regulates gambling in Latvia. The Law is regularly supplemented and amended. Gambling licenses are granted by the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection and are re-registered each year. The Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection works under the Ministry of Finance and implements the state policy on gambling (https://www.iaui.gov.lv/lv/).
Land Based Gambling
Under the Gambling and Lotteries Law, gambling in Latvia is not organized in residential buildings, churches, medical, educational or credit institutions, or cultural establishments. Gambling is allowed in casinos, gambling halls and bingo halls, as well as in betting offices, which are properly licensed. The list of licensed land-based gambling organizers is published on the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection’s official website.
The Gambling and Lotteries Law specifies casino gambling and the number of gaming tables in casinos in and outside Riga. Casinos have the right to issue rules for their visitors and process their personal data. Indoor and outdoor play areas are under constant video surveillance. Each gaming table, casino entrance, reception and cash desk are video-recorded in real-time during opening hours. The video record is kept for at least seven days.
The minimum gambling age in Latvia is 18, and a valid ID is required at the casino entrance. Casino visitors are registered at every visit to the casino. They show an identity document, and the visitor's name and surname, personal identity number, the date and time of entering the casino are registered in the casino visitor register.
Winnings up to EUR 720 are paid out immediately; winnings between EUR 721 and EUR 14,300 are paid within one working day; winnings exceeding EUR 14,300 are paid out within the maximum of 30 days and in the maximum of two payments in cash or by transfer to the player’s bank account. Latvian casinos do not grant any kind of loans or credits to players.
Under the Gambling Law, slot halls in Latvia have at least 20 slot machines. Gambling machines are only installed and operated in casinos and gaming arcades. New gambling regulations make it illegal to place them in markets, shops, airports, bus depots, railway stations, bars, cafes, or restaurants. However, according to the statistics released by the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection, land-based slot machines continue to dominate Latvia’s market, with revenue of EUR 111.5 million in the first half of 2019, significantly greater than casino table game revenue of just over EUR 8 million.
More than 250 slot halls operate across Latvia. Latvian slot halls are modern gambling places. They offer both classic slot machines and the latest generation slot machines providing a wide range of games from leading game creators. The range of slot machines available in particular slot halls can be viewed on their websites (if they have any). Besides gambling activities, slot halls in Latvia usually offer a wide range of entertainment and leisure options. For sports fans, they offer to use sports bars and to predict game scores using land-based betting. For customer convenience, the slot halls provide two types of payment methods, cash and payment cards.
Online gambling is legal and regulated in Latvia. According to the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection, Latvian licensed online gambling market in 2018 generated about EUR 39 million, while the illegal market in Latvia was EUR 33.8 million although illegal gambling sites are being blocked (https://theworldnews.net/lv-news/latvija-lielakais-nelegalo-azartspelu-platformu-ipatsvars-ka-ar-to-cinamies). Currently, about ten operators have been approved to offer online gambling within Latvia’s borders. The list of gambling operators currently holding an online gambling license is given on the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection’s website (https://www.iaui.gov.lv/lv/azartspeles/azartspelu-pakalpojumu-sniegsana/izsniegtas-licences). In April 2019, Latvia’s parliament approved amendments to the nation’s gambling laws to limit the citizens’ ability to access to internationally licensed online gambling operators.
It is not allowed to participate in unlicensed online gambling in Latvia. People under 18 cannot gamble online. In order to be registered to gamble online, players provide their real names, personal identity number and date of birth as well as the account number from which the money will be deposited for online gambling. The total winning in an online casino is at least 80% of the total bets deposited.