An Amateur’s Guide to Latvia’s Evolving Sports-Betting Industry
Latvia’s online sports betting industry is quickly expanding. And the market is going through some radical changes ever since the government introduced certain amendments in 2014. Despite being a part of the Soviet Union, Latvia experienced a brief spell of horse racing during the 1950s.
Unfortunately, the Hippodrome in Riga where the events took place alongside motor races and football, shut down in 1965 following a series of fires. And that marked the end of sports betting in the nation till the 1990s.
Current State of Sports Betting in Latvia
Since 2003 online sports betting is legal in the nation, but it wasn’t until 2008 when Latvia’s first online sportsbook was established. However, reputed off-shore platforms offer their services, much to the relief of local punters.
The government made subsequent changes to the rulebook first in 2006 and then in 2011. The authorities at one point threatened to ban off-shore platforms and penalize punters accessing unauthorized websites.
However, the latest round of regulations was introduced in 2014, and the Latvia Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection banned over 20 foreign iGaming websites. Twenty-two more names were further added to the list, some of which include prominent players in the global gambling community. Additionally, the law made it illegal to process payments to blacklisted operators.
The Introduction of Euro
While foreign websites aren’t technically accessible from Latvia, the widespread use of Euro enables digital transactions including credit card payments, virtual Visa cards, and eWallets. As digital transactions to the blacklisted websites are still impossible, alternate payment methods like prepaid vouchers and prepaid credit cards are a viable alternative.
If you are looking for a Latvian site to place bets, there are some, but not many. While we analyze the impact of the legislation, it’s still too early to comment on the future as there is plenty of room left for grey market operations.
Gambling continues to be a tax-free revenue source for the players while licensed operators currently pay 5% in taxes, compared to 10% before the 2011 amendment. However, other charges and taxes were introduced later on. Therefore, all gambling revenue from off-shore platforms is tax-free in Latvia.
Prominent Land-Based Gambling
For a country of its size, Latvia is home to a surprisingly large number of land-based gambling venues. Apart from a few large casino chains, the country hosts quite a fair number of independent casinos. The most prominent among the lot is perhaps the Royal Casino Spa & Resort Hotel in Riga.
Other notable establishments include Olympic Voodoo, Fenikss, Kazino 777, and the Olympic Casino and Olybet Sports Bar, to name a few.