It’s no secret that online gambling is one of the most profitable industries on a global scale. Given how readily available internet connections are nowadays, coupled with consumer level pricing of mobile devices, this makes for the perfect environment for growth. As such, the trend is more than likely to continue.
Latvia is no exception to the hype
The online casino and sports betting trend has hit Latvia as well and it’s showing no signs of stopping. It is believed this is due to accessibility and legalization of gambling in the country – in fact, Latvia has held a pro-gambling stance ever since 1998, and online gambling has remained legal since 2006.
Regulatory complexity remains a barrier to overcome
Given these facts, one may think that running a gambling business in Latvia is a dream. For those who are actually doing it, however, it’s not all sunshine and roses, and most of it comes down to the overall regulatory complexity that’s present in the country.
Before getting started, every casino operator needs to apply for a license and the procedure can be quite rigorous and strict. In Latvia, the Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection is the regulatory body responsible for issuing the licenses and overseeing the operations of gambling establishments all around the country (this includes the lotteries).
The hurdles of obtaining a gambling license in Latvia
In Latvia, failing to obtain the proper license can lead to the government shutting down the offending establishment. But to be eligible, one of the criteria is to have a capital company that’s registered in the country. In no scenario can the stake of foreign shareholders exceed 49% (although EU and EEA investors are excluded from the rule).
As you can imagine, obtaining a gambling license in Latvia is not exactly the most affordable transaction imaginable. On top of it all, it only lasts for a year. After that, renewal is necessary. The government’s explanation is that the aforementioned practice helps keep a regulatory eye on the online betting platforms and thus contributes to the safety of the players.
The fight against illegal gambling operators
Although no country is willing to turn a blind eye to illegal gambling websites, Latvia’s policing of them is definitely on the stricter end of the scale. In practice, this translates to the government working with ISPs, the latter of which have the capacity to monitor the websites a user may visit. In case they discover one of these is an illegal gambling website, they will report their findings to the Latvian government that proceeds to take further action.
To give this a context, typically, all the ISPs would to is to impose internet censorship on an illegal operator’s website as to prevent access to it. In Latvia, however, the ISPs take a more proactive approach to the matter.
As long as the users are of legal age to gamble (in Latvia, that would be 18+) and no illegal gambling operators are involved, online gambling in Latvia welcomes the gambling enthusiasts with open arms. The operators, on the other hand, are asked to jump through a lot of hoops and bureaucracy, not to mention the hefty costs. But at the end of the day, given how lucrative the business model seems to be, most are more than willing to go through the trouble.