People worldwide have enjoyed online casinos for a long time. First, they were available for desktop computers only. Then, with the advent of smartphones, iGaming platforms enjoyed massive adoption rates and their growth is almost unparalleled.
In Latvia, things were a bit different. If you check out Sloti.eu, you can find some fantastic options for Latvian players, but was it always like this? In this article, we’ll explore a bit of the country’s gambling history and the current situation regarding online casinos.
A New Story
Latvia’s history is long and rich, but its current internal organisation is newer, dating from when the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Before then, gambling was unregulated.
In 1998, the government established the first gambling laws, called “Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority.” This joined the creation of the Control Department as the supervising body. If somebody wants to open a Casino Latvia in the eponymous country, they should head to the Licensing and Financial Analysis Division. They are in charge of granting licences.
However, it was only in 2006 that the Gambling Lotteries Law was enacted, setting new rules for physical and online gambling companies. This was the real start of online casinos in Latvia.
Because online gambling companies in Latvia are a recent development, there aren’t many choices compared to other jurisdictions. Still, the industry is growing worldwide and the country also follows that trend.
Even though there aren’t many Latvian-based gambling operators, can you use an offshore casino to have some fun? Well, yes and no.
What Is Legal and What Isn’t?
The government is clear on this: People in Latvia are allowed to play in Latvian casinos, whether brick-and-mortar or online. This means that any other gambling activity isn’t legal. So, while you might be able to play on an online platform from abroad, the government has a set of measures to prevent this.
First, if you try to access an illegal gambling site (and remember, anything not physically located in Latvia and licensed is “illegal”), your internet provider can report you to the government. Even if you manage to play on sites from abroad, the government restricts Latvian banks from processing payments when it’s detected these transactions are related to unlicensed casino sites.
Moreover, all withdrawals above EUR 3,000 are taxed at 23%, no matter how many losses you’ve had. This is very stringent and pushes people into looking for alternatives, no matter the risk.
These are some of the strictest measures you can find and some people find them authoritarian. However, it has allowed the local gambling industry to grow. Thanks to this protectionist approach, local casino operators are thriving and anyone seriously considering offering gambling services needs to invest in the country.
What’s Inside Latvian Online Platforms?
Luckily, Latvian players can enjoy the same concepts and games their counterparts abroad can. Latvian casinos usually have slots and table games such as poker, baccarat and more. Let’s take a more in-depth look.
- Slots: There are all kinds of slot games from different providers. These include classic “fruit” games and more advanced proposals with 3D graphics, multiple paylines, TV-Series-themed slots, and much more.
- Table Games: You can find all casino favourites, such as roulette, poker, baccarat, blackjack, dice and more. Every game has many different variants and they all come from top providers.
- Live Casino: There are also live versions of table games manned by a human dealer. The action is transmitted via live streaming from a studio. You can interact with the dealer and there are also gameshows resembling popular TV contest shows.
Besides, you’ll find everything that these platforms offer to players worldwide: customer support, promotions, etc.
Where Is The Industry Headed?
No matter the restrictions, the Latvian gambling industry is growing. It generated EUR 109 million in 2021. It grew 26% between 2018 and 2021. This is an incredible growth and this trend will continue. What’s more, the revenue will reach EUR 172 million in 2026, according to some forecasts. The growth rate will stay around 10% for the 2021-2026 period.
Why is it growing so explosively? Remember that Latvia has a young history of gambling regulations. It means that before 2006, nobody was offering online gambling legally in the country.
According to studies, Latvians love slots, above all. Slots are responsible for about 80% of the compound growth rate. In sportsbooks, ice hockey is a top favourite. New options for players will likely focus on such proposals to attract more customers.
Latvia is a problematic jurisdiction for players and casino platforms, but it’s reasonable when you consider the country’s relatively young gambling history. In time, the market will mature, and so will regulations.
Until then, Latvians have several choices to enjoy themselves and have some casino fun. Top gambling companies in Latvia cater to players with local favourites and offerings that are loved by many worldwide. And the good news is, there’s a chance that you’ll find a new proposal every day.