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Latvia - online gambling regulations

Published by Niki | August 27, 2020

Gambling in Latvia

The online gambling industry has grown from strength to strength over the past few years. With the addition of mobile gambling, more and more players across the globe are actively choosing to take part in online gambling.

With the industry growing so rapidly more and more game developers are doing their best to release top-notch games in record time. In truth, when you visit any online casino today you’ll find a decent range of over 300 games to choose from.

There is however one thing that can keep players from taking part in online gambling, or even result in punishment if they do decide to take part. With the rise of the online gambling industry, many governments have started focusing more on the gambling laws and regulations within their countries.

In this guide, we’re taking a look at the gambling laws, regulations, history and other aspects. By the end of the article, you’ll have all the necessary information needed in regard to online gambling.

Online gambling regulations in Latvia

The history and laws of gambling in Latvia

Latvia, much like Hungary, only gained independence in 1990 with the collapse of the USSR. It is only after this period that Latvia started building legitimate gambling venues. Unfortunately, the regulation of these establishments wasn’t as good as it should have been.

For residents of Latvia, it would have seemed that casinos came out of nowhere in the middle of the night. At this time, small companies were considered the regulatory bodies, as no formal authority structure had been put in place.

Latvia only created the first part of their regulatory body, Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection of the Republic of Latvia, in 1998. Finally, players, had higher authorities to look after their well-being and casino safety.

As a European country, Latvia has a high standard of living and also a wealthy income economy. The country is part of organisations such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, and NATO, to name only a few. In 2014 Latvia became a member of the Eurozone by adopting the Euro as its currency.

Since the time gambling was first allowed into the country, a few things have changed. The Control Department is the government body that now controls and regulates all gambling activities in the area. Casino operators looking to acquire a licence, however, would have to do so through the Legal Department.

With the introduction of the Gambling and Lotteries Law of 2006, online casino gambling also became legal and regulated within the country. According to this law, all online casino operators are required to apply for an interactive gambling licence. Once this licence has been approved they are allowed to offer their services in the country.

The Gambling and Lotteries Law also has plenty of strict rules that need to be adhered to. Among these rules are minimum amounts set on returns for certain games. Once an online casino operator has been licensed it also needs to re-register with the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection every year.

Even though the laws state that all online operators who wish to operate within the country have to acquire a licence, there was very little done to prohibit unlicensed foreign operators before 2014. Then in 2014 the government took a page out of Estonia’s law book and started creating a blacklist of all unlicensed sites. Any online casino sites found offering their services illegally will be banned and their ISPs may be blocked.

Even with its strict laws and regulations, Latvia’s online gambling industry seems to be booming. It was reported that their gambling market grew its turnover by 13% in 2017. Most of the revenue and growth was generated from the online casino market.

Will online gambling winnings be taxed in Latvia?

With so many online gambling games to choose from and a variety of progressive jackpot games waiting to be played, it’s almost impossible to stop yourself from trying them out. Most players forget about taxes or the possibility of winnings being taxed, especially considering online gambling is a source of entertainment. Unfortunately, there are various countries that do tax online gambling winnings, which makes it smarter to check whether winnings will be taxed before attempting to strike a major jackpot win.

Latvia used to be a tax-free country for gambling winnings. Unfortunately, with the arrival of 2017, the laws and regulations were updated. Since then, players who have won over 3,000 Euros are required to pay 23% tax on the winnings. Players who win more than 55,000 Euros have to pay a steep 31.4% tax on their winnings. Luckily, the taxes have to be deducted before the payment reaches the player. Thus, while you are still paying tax on the winnings you are not required to declare the wins or pay additional tax during tax season. All the paperwork is left with the operator and not the player.

Online casino operators are saddled with a hefty tax amount on their annual revenue, and there has even been talked of raising the annual tax to 30%. Because of the sudden change in taxation, many foreign operators are taking a detour and skipping Latvia.

Is online gambling legal in Latvia?

While Latvia is quite new to the gambling and online gambling scene, the country seems to have found its feet relatively quickly. Online gambling has been legal in the country since 2006, but there are strict laws and regulations in place to maintain control over the market.
There are various legal online casinos to choose from, but players can also access some unlicensed foreign sites without the fear of punishment. The government is focused only on punishing operators offering services illegally rather than individual players.

The best option remains to play with a licensed online casino that offers a safe and secure gambling environment.

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