Latvia is a Baltic state and one which recently changed its online gambling laws. The latest law changes in Latvia are designed to mirror those in other European Union (EU) countries. However, in the case of this Eastern European nation, the changes have gone to step further to the extreme. Find out what the laws in Latvia mean for you, and where you should play online in the country on this page.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Latvia?
Online gambling is legal in Latvia, but it is heavily restricted. Latvia’s most recent changes to its gambling laws occurred in the middle of 2019. The Saeima (Latvian parliament) enacted legislation – well amendments to already existing legislation, really – which limited how Latvian citizens could gamble online.
Under the new law, all financial institutions (like banks and card providers), as well as internet service providers (ISPs), will be required to provide the names of any Latvian citizens who attempt to play at any gambling website which is not authorised. Individuals could face fines of up to €350 per incident. Moreover, any gamblers who win at legitimate sites and don’t declare taxes on their winnings could face additional punishments. For those of you who are interested, the currenct tax rate is 23% and is only applicable to winnings worth of €3,000.
The law changes also require Latvia’s internet service providers to block access to any offshore casino sites operating without a Latvian license. Thus far, over 1,500 such websites have been effectively blacklisted.
If you do want to gamble online, it is, nonetheless, possible in the country. There are (at the time of writing) around ten legal online casinos in the country, all of which have received an online gambling license from the Latvian authorities. Around two-thirds of those licensees are offshore operators who have set up shop in Latvia, to access such a license and the market there.
Latvian Online Casinos
Latvian online casinos are few and far between. As mentioned, there are only around ten betting sites where you can expect to be able to play your favourite casino games, and most of these are, in fact, online sportsbooks. These casinos will not only have a land-based operation in Latvia but will be licensed by the country’s gambling authorities. They are required to offer their services in Latvian and are the only casinos which are permitted to process transactions with Latvian financial institutions.
Offshore Casino Sites for Latvian Players
By contrast, the most open and extensive online casinos that Latvian players can choose to engage in are those located offshore and not licensed by the state’s gambling authorities. These may (or may not) offer their services in Latvian but do still commonly accept the euro as their currency of choice. There is a slight problem with playing at these offshore casinos, though.
Most of the best sites are now blacklisted in the country. Latvian internet service providers are forced by law to block access to these casinos. This means that only so-so casinos and rogue casinos are normally beyond the blanket ban, as the authorities haven’t discovered them yet, or don’t consider them a major threat. Playing at any of these casinos with a standard connection could see you face punishments, as mentioned earlier.
There is another way to go about betting online in Latvia, though. You might choose to play with a VPN. These virtual private networks can often get around geo-blocking and will trick your ISP into thinking that you are based elsewhere. A good VPN will trick your computer into thinking that you are outside Latvia, and can, therefore, play at casinos which are previously blacklisted by the state. This is the only real way to play at the world’s leading online casinos from within Latvia. Play with an insecure VPN or a poor one, though, and you could still face the fines and punishments mentioned for those players caught trying to engage in activity with an offshore casino.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Not anymore. For the time being, Latvia has legalised around ten online casinos. These play ball in terms of Latvia’s tough and strict gambling laws. However, the amount of revenue they bring in is small. Only around €40m per annum is raised via these ten casinos. Latvians spend arguably more at offshore casinos. That might, in time, convince Latvia to open their licenses to more offshore operators. The country is unlikely to drop its ISP blocks, but it is not impossible that they might award more licenses, to create a broader array of domains for Latvians to choose from. There is no sign of this happening yet, though.
Top Latvian Casino Sites
If you want to take the plunge, get yourself a VPN and play at offshore casinos which cater to Latvians players, you’ll find plenty of them on this page. These are all top casinos, which (irrespective of what Latvia believes) offer fair, secure and safe gaming to their players. Some provide gameplay in Latvian, and all accept the euro currency.
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