Gambling operators last month were stirred after Latvian regulators announced the ban of all gambling activities in the country. After the announcement, operators asked the government to clarify if the ban applies to license online gambling operators locally.
After the issues were classified, the country immediately imposed the ban on online gambling operations in the Latvian territory.
Latvia’s Coronavirus Bill
Latvia’s emergency coronavirus bill immediately banned online gambling in the country. The ban on gaming was issued by the government’s president, Egils Levits, on 22 March. The bill prohibited gambling and lotteries with an exception for interactive gambling, numerical lotteries, and instant lotteries.
Online gaming was banned because of the article that states that the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority will suspend the licenses of all physical gambling venues and all forms of gambling trough interactive media and/or via electronic communication services.
Lottery and Gambling Supervisory Authority’s legal department director, Janis Ungus, said during an interview with iGB that they obliged all online betting sites to stop their operations as of 6 April. They also demanded that all legal obligations with clients must be carried away.
Ungurs said that the ban might be extended by possibly three months despite being stated in the bill that it will end on 14 April. The Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority announced to stop receiving visitors in person starting 13 March until 14 April.
Lifting of Online Bill Voted Down by Government
Latvia declined the pleas to lift the ban on online betting activities in the country while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The country’s parliament, Saeima, voted against the proposal to exclude locally licensed online gaming operators from the ban.
The ban on gambling in the country was decided to control the spread of the deadly virus. Online gaming is a fresh industry in Latvia. The Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection needed to clarify whether the industry is listed on the ban when the coronavirus bill was implemented.
Latvia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its Budget and Finance Committee of the country’s parliament believed that the ban on online gaming would not help in the fight against the spread of the virus and, at the same time, channels local gamblers to international licensed online gambling platforms.
The Latvian Interactive Gambling Association (LIAB) previously criticized the government ban, describing it as “devoid of logic.” The organization did not react to the result of the debate on Friday, but some of its members believed that the government might face scrutiny from local online licenses. Some also thought that the government is siding on some lottery operators because they are exempted from the ban.
LIAB released its report entitled, “Latvian Interactive Gambling Industry: Challenges and Solutions to Reduce Illegal Market Share,” wherein they reported that the ban was incomprehensible and populist. The report also said that the decision was politicized and contrary to consumer’s interest.
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