Online Gambling Banned in Latvia due to Covid-19

The Latvian government issued an updated bill this Monday, effectively banning online gambling through April 15.

Updated bill bans online gambling in Latvia

Monday, April 6, the Latvian government issued an updated bill banning online gaming with instant effect. This action came following the emergency bill that president Egils Levits signed back in March.

The initial bill included the prohibition of lotteries and gambling, numerical lottery games and instant lotteries but left the online gambling with unclear status. Keeping this in mind as of this Monday, all gambling, including online gambling, is prohibited by the Latvian government at least until April 14.

Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic will spread, further extension of the current lockdown and gaming ban can be initiated for a period up to three months.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Latvia

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow and spread throughout the globe. While the reported cases for the US, Spain and Italy increase, Latvia hasn’t taken a hit by the dangerous virus so far.

With a total of 548 reported cases, 2 patients dead and 16 recovered, Latvia is far behind in the list of COVID-19 cases along with other countries such as Lebanon, Bulgaria and Andorra. One can only hope that the country’s actions are well-planned which will ultimately result in reducing of newly reported virus cases. Regarding the bill itself, President Levits and Chief Executive Ustinov both had doubts that, by submitting this bill, illegal operators may appear.

The gambling industry takes a hit after hit

The current ban is not the first hit that the gambling industry has suffered from. It was back in November 2019 that the Latvian Saeima (also known as the Baltic nation’s parliament) approved numerous amendments regarding tax, law and fees for the lotteries and gambling. The main goal for the changes was for the gambling industry to contribute more towards the state budget.

The gambling ban in Latvia is not something unusual for Europe during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Similar move was done by Spain – where gambling advertising was limited due to the virus outbreak. In the United Kingdom – the Gambling Commission offered additional restrictions for the gaming operator in terms of the age of the players, effectively offering a ban for players under 25 years of age.

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