In the Republic of Lithuania, gambling has been legal since 2001. However, the first gambling laws put into effect by the Eastern European country where primarily devised for the land-based gambling industry. The online casino gaming sector remained mostly unregulated. That was the case until 2016 when Lithuania put into place new rules to regulate the industry. Any player in the country may not know where they stand, or what the laws state. Fortunately, Lithuanian gambling law is not as complicated as that of other EU member states. Here is how it all works…
Is Online Gambling Legal in Lithuania?
Online gambling was unregulated (but deemed legal) from 2001 until 2016. In 2016, new legislation previously approved by the Lithuanian Government came into effect. In a sense, it made all forms of gambling legal, save for Bitcoin betting. However, apart from the cryptocurrency exception, there is something else about Lithuanian gambling law which stands out. While Lithuania views all other forms of gambling online legal, they are only above board if the operator of such services has obtained a Lithuanian gambling license.
Lithuanian gaming licenses are distributed by the GCA (Gaming Control Authority). Any online casino which carries such a permit can legally offer their services to players in the country. It is worth noting that players in Lithuania who do not wish to play at such sites, and who visit offshore casinos can still do so without fear of prosecution, though.
For operators, It is not as simple as applying for a gambling license and paying for the privilege. To obtain a gambling license in this country, an operator must either have a physical office in the country (so they can be taxed, no doubt), or they must be entered into a partnership with a land-based casino which does have such a license.
The Lithuanian gaming authorities will blacklist and block access to any foreign casinos which do not have licenses issued by the Gaming Control Authority.
Lithuanian Online Casinos
Lithuanian online casinos always offer the euro currency, and they will provide gameplay in the Lithuanian language. They will also provide Lithuanian-friendly payment methods and support. As mentioned, these sites will also either have an office in the country, or they will have a partnership with a land-based venue. As you might imagine, this doesn’t leave too many options in terms of bona fide Lithuanian casinos to play at. It also means that foreign operators are all but shut out of the industry.
Offshore Casino Sites for Lithuanian Players
While offshore casinos can, in theory, apply for a license if they seek a partnership with an existing casino, few do so. It would be a lengthy and costly process, and there isn’t much in it for the local land-based casinos, either. Any foreign sites which accept Lithuanian players but do not hold a license issued by the GCA are usually blocked by the country’s ISPs (internet service providers). This cutting out of international sites hasn’t hindered Lithuanians ability to play at such domains, though.
Most of the major sites are blacklisted, but a few will naturally slip through the net. Others which are blocked by ISPs can, in theory, be accessed with a good VPN (virtual private network). Players will need to ensure that they have a VPN which has geo-block unlocking capabilities so that they can trick their internet browser into thinking that they are based outside of the country. Many of the paid VPNs can do this.
Offshore casinos are supposed to be punished by the Lithuanian gaming authorities, but there are have been no reports of any fines being handed out. The players themselves are not targeted. Those which remain open to players in the country may be of the sketchier variety, licensed out of far-flung regions such as Curacao, or Costa Rica. Players can avoid any potential problems by choosing to play at licensed Lithuanian casinos, or by opting to sign up at recognised offshore sites which accept them, such as those you will find below.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Lithuania, like most EU countries, now regulates its own online gambling industry. Because of the tight rules on partnerships and offices in the country, many of the big fish tend to stay away from the market. This leaves a rather small pool of proper Lithuanian casinos. It is, therefore, entirely possible that Lithuania may realise the error of their ways, and decide to maximise their revenue from gambling enterprises by opening up the market to offshore operators without those restrictions in the future.
However, since regulating your own online gaming industry and dishing out licenses (against the rules of the EU single market) is very much the in-thing at this moment in time, and is practised by many other EU member states, nothing is likely to change in the immediate future.
Top Lithuanian Casino Sites
Unless you want to play at just a handful of fully licensed Lithuanian online casinos, you will find the array of available domains a touch limited. There are a good number of offshore casino sites which accept Lithuanians, are safe to play at, and are not covered by the country’s blacklists. Moreover, the state doesn’t punish players for playing at such sites.