Today Europe is considered one of the leading centers of development of the online gambling industry. Moreover, many solvent people opting for new online entertainment makes the European continent an excellent gambling investment destination. And Baltic countries attract the special attention of investors.
The governments of these countries keep a liberal policy towards online casinos and sportsbooks. At the same time, their citizens enjoy a reasonably high standard of living and have a high level of income. Therefore, with a deep interest in new online entertainment emotions, they appear as excellent target auditory for new projects. Though digital casinos are legal in Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, each country has unique features in online gambling regulation. Below we will consider the most significant ones.
Estonia started licensing and regulating online games in 2010. When the country first opened its market to foreign companies, it required the operator to locate servers in the country. However, in 2012, Estonian authorities removed this regulatory requirement. After the legalization of the online market, the government began to block unlicensed gambling sites from providing their services to the country’s citizens. The Estonian Tax and Customs Board exercises state supervision over gambling. It is also responsible for gambling licensing in the country.
The operator need not register the company in the country to obtain a license. But still, it is obliged to open a physical office in Estonia. In addition, digital casinos and sportsbooks are required to pay a 5% tax on total bets amount without winnings. You can find the list of the best licensed casinos in Estonia by following this link: eestikasiinod.info/. The Estonian authorities pay special attention to ensuring that the gambling industry does not harm society. For example, the minimum age in Estonia to play in a casino is 21 years old.
Lithuania legalized the gambling business in 2001. Online casinos have become legal in Lithuania since 2016. The Gambling Law regulates their activity. According to it, gambling companies providing their services in the country without a proper national license are considered illegal and will be subject to legal measures – blocking payments and DNS. The Gaming Control Authority within the Ministry of Finance handles the issuance of permits to organize gambling in Lithuania. To legalize a new digital casino, the operator must enter into an official partnership with a land-based gambling club registered in the country.
The minimum amount of the company’s authorized capital is USD 1.8 million. Online casino tax is 13% of all bets minus paid winnings. License is issued for an unlimited period. However, the reasons for withdrawing or suspending the authorization have yet to be clearly regulated. Lithuanian authorities keep a Register of persons restricting participation in gambling voluntarily, intending to prevent the spread of ludomania among citizens. In 2022, the country also banned advertising gambling platforms on resources, where 80% of the target audience consists of minors.
Online casinos became legal in Latvia in 2006 after adopting The Gambling and Lottery Law. The Gambling and Lottery Supervision Inspectorate regulates digital casinos in Latvia. Its functions are as follows:
- online casino licensing;
- checking and registration of gaming equipment and software;
- maintenance of the gamblers list;
- control of tax payment accuracy etc.
When considering applying for a gambling license, regulatory authorities pay attention to the citizenship of the company’s founders. According to the law, at least 50% of the company’s management must be citizens of Latvia. Moreover, gaming equipment must be tested by the relevant bodies accredited in the EU. The license is issued for an unlimited period, but every year its validity must be updated.
Latvia is taking stringent measures against unlicensed online casinos and their Latvian players. The government amended its gambling laws to prevent residents of Latvia from accessing offshore online casino providers. In addition, laws forbid financial transactions between Latvian players and unlicensed offshore online casinos.
Baltic countries’ regulations final thoughts
Online gambling is becoming one of the trendiest kinds of digital entertainment worldwide. As a result, it pushes many countries to review their policies toward digital casinos. The Baltic states’ approach shows that online gambling legalization allows controlling their activity, reducing to a minimum the shadow sector of this industry. Meanwhile, casino tax revenues become an additional driver for internal economic development.