Latvia is a country which has recently changed the way its gambling laws work. Eager to fall in line with other European Union countries in terms of the way gambling laws work, Latvia passed new legislation in 2019. For those players who have not been keeping up with events, what does this mean for the Latvian online gambling sector? While online gambling is legal in Latvia, it is heavily regulated. Here is everything you need to know about Latvia’s gambling laws, and what the best online casinos in Latvia can offer players in the Baltic country.
An Overview of Gambling in Latvia
Latvia’s parliament (Saeima) passed laws in 2019, which would mimic those found in other EU countries. The new regulations mean that only operators which have obtained a gambling license from the Latvian gambling authorities are permitted to offer online gambling services to Latvians. The bad news is that only around ten or so such operators have acquired a license from those authorities.
You might be thinking that this is not so bad and that you can simply visit offshore casinos? Latvia has taken some serious steps to prohibit that, too. Under the gambling laws of 2019, any financial institutions in Latvia are now required to report gambling-related transactions to the authorities. Latvians caught gambling at offshore casinos can be prosecuted with fines of up to €350. Further punishments are in place for gamblers who fail to declare tax on any winnings at offshore casinos. This presents Latvians with a difficult choice if they get caught. Play at offshore casinos and pay tax on their winnings as well as a fine of up to €350 or claim they did not win anything to avoid paying tax, but possibly end up with a stricter sentence.
Latvia does go out of its way to implement a blacklist of foreign casinos. Latvia’s internet service providers (ISPs) have been commanded to run this blacklist, and ban access to foreign casinos. However, a decent virtual private network (VPN) should be sufficient to get around these restrictions.
Latvia’s Most Played Casino Games
Latvia has not formally banned any types of gambling games, although there is legislation for some games and not others, leaving some casinos games falling into something of a grey zone. What do Latvians like to bet on, though? Let us take a quick look at the most played casino games in the Baltic country.
Casino Games: Most online casino games are legal in Latvia. The licensed operators in the country can provide a handful of casino games, although traditional titles such as games of chance are usually off-limits. In short, if Latvia seems something a game of skill, it is legal and above board.
Poker Games: Poker games are considered games of skill. While there is no specific legislation governing them, these games are legal. You will struggle to find poker rooms, but some Latvian online casinos do carry one or two games that you can play.
Lottery and Bingo Games: Lottery games are run by the state monopoly, Latvijas Loto. Any lottery games and lottery betting sites are run by this monopoly. Unsurprisingly, the jackpot prizes in this country (which has a small population) are petite, so Latvians tend to visit offshore lottery sites to play games which have substantially larger prizes. Bingo is also popular in Latvia, and bingo games can be played at Latvian lottery sites.
Sports Betting: Sports betting is popular everywhere, and Latvia is no exception. However, Latvians do prefer to play slots and casino games than wager on sports, which is not what you might expect. Sportsbooks are legal in Latvia, provided they have obtained a Latvian gambling license.
Taxes on Big Wins at Latvian Casinos
Latvia’s law changes in 2019 also saw new taxes to come into play. For the most part, these taxes were applied to land-based casinos and not the online casinos or players themselves. As of January 2020, slots, roulette, card, and dice games are all subject to flat fees of over €5,000. On top of that, annual fees of €28,000 per table and roulette game are also in place.
There is a current tax rate of 23% applied to winnings acquired when betting online. However, it is essential to note that players only need to pay this tax if they pick up wins worth over €3,000. That said, the rule also applies to winnings at offshore (illegal) casinos, too, which, as mentioned, puts Latvians in a bit of a dilemma about whether to declare those winnings or not.
The Best Latvian Online Casinos to Join Today
It is naturally going to be appealing to everything squeaky clean and only play at Latvian licensed online casinos. However, oddly enough, these domains to do not represent the best Latvian online casinos around. They suffer from a lack of games, tight regulation, heavy taxes, and other drawbacks. Instead, opting to play at an offshore casino is something that many Latvians choose to do.
Before doing so, you are advised to look for the best Latvian online casinos to join. These will typically provide the following:
Convenient Payment Methods: As mentioned, Latvia has a law in place whereby Latvian financial institutions are required to report all gambling-related activity to the authorities. This naturally means that Latvians are not going to play at foreign casinos which offer Latvians payment methods. As a result, the best international casinos catering to Latvia-based players will be those which offer payment methods which do not fall under the Latvian gambling laws, such as cryptocurrencies and e-wallets.
A Good Array of Games: Latvian gambling laws largely exclude games of chance. However, most casino games fall into this group, so games tend to be somewhat limited at Latvian licensed casinos. Therefore, if you choose to play at an international casino, you should try and ensure that it is one which has a top-notch selection of games, ideally from many different providers. Playing at casinos which also offer sports betting, bingo, poker, and lottery games is ideal.
Latvian Options: Latvian is a small language, but many Latvians also excel in English. You need to select an online casino which offers you one of the two options. The best Latvian online casinos will not just allow you to navigate the site in Latvian or English; they will also provide support in one of these languages. Moreover, they will permit players to deposit using the euro.
Safe and Secure Gaming: To be a hundred percent sure that you are doing everything legally, you need to play at a Latvian licensed casino. However, these are few and far between and suffer from other drawbacks, as mentioned. If you decide to play at a foreign casino, you should try and ensure that you are playing somewhere, which is well-licensed, regulated, and certified. Other European licensed casinos are an advantage, as these are legal under EU law (if not Latvian law), and this means that the Latvian authorities are more hesitant to punish players too severely. Look for responsible gaming policies, SSL (secure socket layer) encryption, reliable support, and certifications, also.
Latvian players have a choice to make. On the one hand, they can play at Latvian licensed online casinos. These are few, seldom contain a vast array of games and often fail to fulfil the criteria of being amongst the best Latvian casinos around. On the other hand, international casinos are technically illegal and could see you end up fined or prosecuted if you play there. Despite the risks involved, many Latvian players opt for a more extensive online casino gaming experience, by choosing to play at international casino sites. You can find many of these types of casinos right here on this site.