Latvia Bans Online Gambling with an Emergency Bill

Latvia Bans Online Gambling with an Emergency Bill

The Latvian government recently issued an emergency COVID-19 bill in response to the pandemic which has banned online gambling in the country starting Monday. The bill was signed by president Egils Levits on March 22 but the government had not decided on the fate of online gambling at that time.

Ban till April 14

The bill has halted igaming activities in the country till at least April 14, when the nationwide lockdown will be lifted. However, the authorities may decide to extend the date of the lockdown and there is a real possibility of this ban extending for about three months.

Latvia Bans Online Gambling with an Emergency Bill

According to the initial filing of the bill, the government banned lotteries and gambling but didn’t explicitly ban interactive gambling. This means that numerical lottery games and instant lotteries were still good to go. However, the bill later noted that all gambling licenses for physical venues, interactive media, and electronic communication services will be suspended by the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority.

The wording of the bill led to confusing after which the government had to clarify the scope of their bans. Now, it has mentioned that all types of gambling operations, including online gambling, will remain suspended. Janis Ungurs, the director of the legal department of the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority said that online gambling operations must suspended activity on April 6 and ensure that they complete all legal obligations with customers.

Enlabs disagrees with the ban

Enlabs, an entertainment company, said that the decision by the government to shut down legal operations will only lead to an increase in illegal gambling activity. Enlabs president and CEO Georg Ustinov said that the players will still want to gamble but they would have to visit illegal gambling sites now. He pointed out that the government aimed to ensure that the vulnerable do not gamble away with their funds during the shutdown. However, this cannot be achieved by suspending the legal market.

Amid global lockdowns, players are isolated at home and maybe encouraged to spend more than they likely do. In such a circumstance, gambling regulators around the world are coming up with solutions to avoid excessive spending by the players. The Spanish Council of Ministers recently imposed harsh restrictions on advertising gambling products. The government didn’t want operators to take advantage of vulnerable payers during the lockdown. Advertisements for gambling products are now allowed only for four hours between 1 am and 5 am.

About sherlock

Sherlock Gomes loves to write and express his views on anything related to Gaming, Gambling, & Casino. He has been covering Gaming for more than two years now.