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EEGReport Magazine Issue8

Interview with Miglena Dimitrova (MDMI Legal)



Main focus: Bulgarian gambling market and Eastern European Gaming Summit

Miglena Dimitrova

MDMI Legal

Miglena Dimitrova is a founding partner in MDMI Legal law firm, heading the gambling law team.  Miglena Dimitrova is an IP and regulatory lawyer and mediator.  Her main areas of practice include IP and regulatory matters, focusing mainly on online media, financial services and gambling.

Miglena has extensive experience in the gambling application procedure before the Bulgarian State Gambling Commission, as well as in all other aspects of gambling legislation, and has advised the largest international gambling operators, associations and platform providers.

She is a regular speaker at national and international gambling conferences.

Miglena Dimitrova has worked for more than six years as an expert in the National Parliament for various parliamentary groups, and has successfully advised clients on payment instruments, intellectual property rights, digital services and regulatory matters for more than 15 years.

First of all thank you very much for accepting this interview. I would like to ask you to shortly introduce yourself to our readers.

Miglena: I am an IP and regulatory lawyer and a managing partner at MDMI Legal law firm. MDMI Legal is a business law firm based in Sofia which provides legal advice to domestic and foreign clients. We have significant experience and highly motivated team of professionals aiming to respect and protect in a best possible way our clients’ interests and goals. Our broad experience as well as our proactive and tailor- made approach allows us to provide high quality pro-business legal advice to our clients.
You are an IP and regulatory lawyer and mediator. Your main areas of practice include regulatory work focusing especially on online media, financial services and gambling. Which of these areas do you like working at the most and why?

Miglena: When our clients are developing, we attorneys say we are lucky to have the chance to expand our own horizons. Every lawyer has his/her own personality. Attorneys like myself have a passion for broadening and transferring standard models of operation into new segments. This is a great opportunity to test my own creativity, and brings a lot of courage to support the client in the most challenging stages.

For the past two years, I have been dealing mainly with Gambling Law. This enables me to apply and expand my knowledge of protecting, storing and processing personal data, resolving consumer disputes, and regulating online services.

I like my daily working routine. The mixture of knowledge and skills I acquire is the biggest challenge I bring to myself, every day. Currently, I’m entirely committed to people’s online activities. According to UK’s official gambling regulator, 62% of the people who are active online bet. Perhaps on a European scale, the percentage is about 50, but in any case, we are talking about a towering business that affects multiple layers of activity.

You have very rich experience in the gambling application procedure before the Bulgarian State Gambling Commission and you have also been working in the Bulgarian National Parliament for various parliamentary groups. You must have a very deep insight of the Bulgarian gambling market. What is your opinion about the actual situation of the Bulgarian gambling market?

Miglena: I’m heavily involved in the online gambling business in Bulgaria. What’s interesting is that Bulgaria is a country with established gaming equipment manufacturers who sell gaming machines around the world. From the specialized events that are organized I have the impression that this part of our industry is on an exceptional level and has been on the rise for many years. It is not a surprise that Bulgaria is a country with many casinos and gambling establishments.

Big names in the industry such as bet365, Betfair, bwin and Pokerstars have strong presence in our country.

You participate at various international conferences and are a regular speaker on different topics related to gambling. What is your personal opinion about the European gambling industry in general?

Miglena: In 2018, millennials will become a big part of the gambling community. This won’t happen out of the blue, but it will have a huge impact on the industry. My expectations are related to the emergence of more “games of skill” rather than “games of chance”.

I believe that in 2018 there will be a crypto-currency boom that will affect the gambling industry in one way or another.

Will you please share your experiences and share your opinion about the sate of gaming regulation In Bulgaria now, and what can be expected in the near future?

Miglena: European data protection laws are in place for Bulgaria.

As to advertising, it is possible for restrictions similar to those concerning alcohol and tobacco products to be introduced, more specifically the time periods in which television advertising may be broadcast.

Currently, there are discussions related to the implementation of responsible gambling measures.

The Bulgarian regulator organizes annual meetings where valuable European practices are discussed. That’s a great way to maintain a working regulatory framework and in that sense my expectations are positive.

What is your opinion about the legislation framework of the East European countries?

Miglena: Whenever the national monopolistic lobby is strong, countries carefully disguise their regulations by using the legal traditions or peculiarities of peoples’ psychology. With these arguments, the European Commission is powerless to impose or recommend standards. Yet, by comparison with everything else in our Matrix – where there is energy with higher vibration, the question is always when, not whether.

Tell us please about your future plans, projects regarding your professional life.

Miglena: My plans are mainly focused on the day-to-day work with my clients.

Lately, there’s been an influx of young and interesting people in our team and we are actively discussing innovative ideas.

We’re already working on an ICO for a client of ours.

Challenges in the tech world are challenges for us lawyers, too. The most important thing is to be healthy and active so that we can develop projects that connect us in a meaningful, positive way.




EEGReport Magazine Issue8

Interview with Peter W. Szabo (Principal of FarZenith – Initiale, Former Senior Manager UX/UI @ The Stars Group Inc., London)



Main focus: Career + User Experience Optimization

Peter is a passionate user experience designer, researcher, blogger and sci-fi lover. In 2008 he has founded Initiale, which was likely the first UX agency in Romania, to bring the user’s voice into the Eastern European web development scene. While helping companies succeed in ux, usability, accessibility and evangelising user centric thinking, he came up with his own user experience management methodology, the Kaizen-UX, now used at big corporations and agencies alike.

Peter has over nine years of success in user experience. He worked as external UX consultant, researcher, and designer for big brands, such as Amazon, Tesco, Virgin Atlantic, HSBC or British Gas. He was also leading the UX team at the world’s biggest online gambling company The Stars Group Inc. (PokerStars, FullTilt, Casino, BetStars, etc.)

@WSzP is an evangelist of good UX, management and development practices. His web development background makes him a total UX geek. (He probably dreams in JavaScript with some neat libraries like Angular 5.)

In June, 2017 his new book, User Experience Mapping was published by Pack in Birmingham. Shortly after he moved back to Tirgu Mures, where he lives now with his family.

If you want to learn more, please visit his UX blog, the

Thank you for being available and accepting this interview. First of all will you please introduce yourself? Please tell our readers when and why you started working in this industry.

Peter: When my daughter was three someone asked her, what his father does. She replied: “He’s a lion.” I have never found a better one-sentence summary of what I do. Most people know me as a user experience consultant, designer, researcher, manager. People who are interested in UX know me as a conference speaker and the author of User Experience Mapping, a book which reached its third print run in December 2017.  I’m also teaching web technologies at my alma-mater university. Truth to be told, UX is not my job. It’s my hobby and my passion. I get overjoyed when I can help making software easier to use. When I can solve problems, and make the users’ lives easier.

Why a lion? I was one of the very first UX experts in Eastern Europe. At the time people had no idea what UX was, but my websites, business cards and all printed material contained felines, usually lions.

That was before I started specializing in gamer experience. I worked for big brands, like Amazon, Samsung or Marks & Spencer, before I started working in the gaming industry.  Later I joined The Stars Group (Amaya Inc. at the time) as Senior Manager. In 2017 I decided to return to my consulting job, sadly leaving behind my job and friends at PokerStars. Now I work for big brands and start-ups alike. Among others, I help CasinoCoin, to create the easiest to use and most user-friendly crypto-currency wallet and bankroll manager. Gambling will always be an essential part of my life and professional portfolio. Starting this year, I will work on a project for another big gambling company.

You are interested in many domains, as have read it in your CV: you are a passionate user experienced designer, researcher, blogger and you also like sci-fi. How can you find time for all of these activities?

Peter: What I learned from lions is to sleep close to work. Lions usually sleep in a bush close to something their prey needs, typically water. This has an obvious advantage, especially if your work is your hobby. I often find myself working 10+ hours per day, and not feel tired. When I used to work in the Stars Group’s London office, I rented a flat very close to it. Now my office is in the same building where I sleep, just different floors.

Which is the most important activity for you?

Peter: I would say that user research is the most important. Most clients only want a UX strategy or some interface designed. Often, real user research with scholarly rigor would be outside of the project’s budget, but I always try my best to squeeze in research. I don’t believe that it’s possible to create great experiences without specific and dedicated research. Even for big brands sometimes I decide to do the research for free or very reduced cost. Based on my personal experience, if you do rigorous user research you can usually increase conversion rates by 20% or more. Even after nine years, users keep amazing me. Not to mention that user behaviors evolve over time. So it’s always a new challenge, and this job never becomes dull or a routine.

In 2008 you founded your company FarZenith – Initiale. Please tell us more about your business.

Peter: I was young, and I needed the money, so I started doing porn. As in optimizing adult entertainment websites. I haven’t had any clients from that industry in the past five years, but I have learned a lot from those sites. There UX was make-or-brake even in 2008, and the clients realized that. Even in 2018, some industries, like financial services or banking would benefit from the user-focused mindset of the adult industry in 2008.

Since that time, we have worked with companies from many verticals, from small startups to giants like Microsoft, Amazon or The Stars Group.

I prefer to work with a small team, meaning a low number of projects at a time. Usually, we have two to five clients in parallel. My mantra is: “Absolutely no account managers or any other gatekeepers.” The clients can always reach one of my senior team members, or me. We don’t do advertising, because all clients find us through word of mouth, so for us, it’s essential to always be successful. After all, bad news spreads much faster.

This way I can personally oversee all larger projects and review smaller ones to guarantee the highest quality output. I could have easily scaled the business to five, ten or even more clients at a time by increasing the team size, but that would mean compromising on quality. No human being could single-handedly guarantee the quality of so many parallel projects. So we stayed small, agile and very efficient.

What do you consider the most successful experience in the history of FarZenith – Initiale?

Peter: I could name industry awards, or just say that we never had a client who was not happy with us. But the biggest measurable success we had was probably one of the easiest to achieve. A few years ago a fashion brand redesigned their website, embracing the buzzword of the time, responsive design. Unexpectedly, the mobile conversion rate dropped. They contacted us, and as you can guess, this was a super urgent, business critical project. Without further ado, we set-up a quick remote user test the same day we signed the contract. Even during the very first testing session, we found three absolute conversion killers. For example, an apparent high severity issue was related to the product pictures. They were not only tiny on a smartphone’s screen, but the pinch-and-zoom gesture was not working due to some JavaScript issue. Basically, the users had no way of seeing the details of a clothing item on their smartphones. As a result of our work, the conversion rates on smartphone increased by 38% and the number of customer support calls decreased by 23%.

What advice would you give to those investors who are planning to set up a business in the gaming and gambling sector in Romania?

Peter: In 2017 I had a few discussions revolving around setting-up game development businesses in Romania. In a nutshell, I have always suggested avoiding Bucharest or Cluj-Napoca. In those cities, you will need to pay higher salaries, more expensive rent, and you have a harder time finding top talent. If you consider a smaller city, for example, Tirgu Mures, you will not need to compete with giants like Microsoft or Adobe to get the best candidates for your roles. Moreover, your retention rate will probably be higher than it would in the capital city. For example, in Tirgu Mures you can build a team cherry-picking the best employees not just from the city itself, but at least three counties, if not more. The universities are also great in some of the smaller towns, and you will probably have easier time forming good relations with those institutions, leading to collaboration and great junior team members hand picked by their professors.

When speaking to a friend from Ireland, I suggested buying a smaller development company, and even keeping the founder in a leadership position. This way the Romanian team would be productive from day zero, and the investor will not need to worry hiring a whole team, making sure they can work together, create a leadership structure, etc. Some well-known companies started their Romanian adventures with just outsourcing contracts, then followed by acquiring a local agency or smaller development house, so this is hardly a path not walked upon.

What do you think about the future of the Romanian and more generally about the East European gambling industry, especially focusing on the markets you have more experience in?

Peter: The gambling industry in Romania or Hungary still has a lot to catch-up, compared to the United Kingdom.  Fortunately, in user experience and software development the gap almost doesn’t exist. You can get the high-quality design, research, and code from an agency in Romania. The same quality standards you would expect from one in the UK. Usually, for a fraction of the price.

For outsourcing software development the benefits are obvious, and many companies shifted in that direction. When it comes to designing solutions, apps, and experiences, I often get asked if I will travel to X country to test the users, to gain insights from them? In rare cases I do, but this is rarely needed unless you are designing hardware. Instead of the lab tests of the ‘90s, we use remote testing and online tools, which can be used from anywhere in the world. As most successful gambling companies draw users from many different countries, this is the only reasonable way to have accurate test results. Moreover, remote testing is more natural. I mean how often do you gamble in a white room, in front of a mirror, three cameras pointed at your face, while a stranger sits next to you?

What’s your hobby?

Peter: You mean besides user experience? My second hobby, based on time-spent, is reading. I never leave home without my Kindle. I also love games, not just gambling and computer games, but also board games. Aside hobbies, I try to spend as much time as I can with my family and my cat. Did I mention that I’m a cat person?

Tell us please about your future plans, projects regarding your professional life.

Peter: Our most sought-after service is improving the conversion rate of the end-to-end user journey from the first contact with the brand through landing pages, registration and finally first deposit. To be able to do this, we hand-craft intelligent landing pages with simple behavior learning patterns. For example, if it’s a betting site, and we know that a visitor’s favorite team is Real Madrid, we generate a landing page showing the next Real Madrid game with odds, instead of a generic-looking landing page. Our biggest endeavor for this year will be to create an automated, CMS like solution for this. My dream is an automated CMS solution for user-tailored, intelligent landing pages optimized for conversions, which will automatically run multivariate tests, apply the results and improve itself over time.

As personal goals go, I hope to write another book, and as always, speak at many events, spreading the word about user-centric thinking and my Kaizen-UX management framework.  A more specific, research goal is to improve my LEVER behavior change framework through real projects and in the long run, probably write a book about user behavior research and how to change the behaviors. This is a new area of UX, but projects like Amazon Smile already proved its benefits.

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EEGReport Magazine Issue8

Interview with Renata Beržanskienė (Sorainen)



Main focus: Lithuanian gambling market

Renata Beržanskienė heads the Sorainen Distribution & Trade, Information Technology & Data Protection, Intellectual Property, Telecommunications and Transport & Maritime Practice Areas in Lithuania. She is also head of the Sorainen Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Sector Group in the Baltic states and Belarus. Renata has been with Sorainen since 1999 and has been practising law since 1992.

Renata is one of the four lawyers in dispute resolution in Lithuania who earned the highest ranking from international legal directory Chambers Global (2013).  During her 25 years of practice Renata has been involved in many cases and represented clients in arbitrations, and has participated as an arbitrator in more than 50 arbitration cases handled by the Vilnius Court of Commercial Arbitration. She was a member of the national group of Lithuania in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2011–2017. In 2007, Renata was elected a member of the Commission on Arbitration and Mediation of the Lithuanian Business Confederation, and became the chairwoman of this commission in March 2016. In 2006, the Czech Arbitration Court selected her as a panellist with the Czech Arbitration Court for .eu domain name disputes. On 20 March 2014, the National Courts Administration designated Renata as a court mediator and included her in the List of Court Mediators. From 2008 to November 2014, she was the head of the Lithuanian delegation to the Council of Bars & Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and led the International Relations Committee at the Lithuanian Bar Association.

According to the statistics of Mergermarket, Renata is No 9 among individual lawyers by the total value of advised major M&A transactions in the Baltics (EUR 1.692 billion during 2005-2016).

Renata is an expert highly recommended by the following legal directories:

The Legal 500 for dispute resolution as “a leading litigator” and for intellectual property;

Chambers Europe for dispute resolution, corporate and commercial also employment law – “Interviewees note Renata Beržanskienė for her copyright and trade mark litigation expertise”. They also praise her “excellent response times and smooth organisation.” Sources admire her “precise, elegant work in arbitration.” She is also well known for her experience in IP disputes;

Chambers Global for dispute resolution. “Sources agree that Renata Beržanskienė is one of the best arbitration lawyers in the country, with an excellent track record in the field”; “Renata really understands how we think and is responsive to our needs. She made sure everything was done.” Renata is also recommended for her “extensive experience as litigator, arbitrator and mediator to lead the team in IP litigation”;

PLC Which lawyer? for dispute resolution;

Best Lawyers for litigation, arbitration and mediation, international arbitration, corporate and M&A, and IP and IT law;

Who’s Who Legal  for arbitration;

World Trademark Review 1000 in intellectual property practice describes Renata as “a top expert on trademark and copyright infringement and domain name disputes”.

Renata was also named Lawyer of the Year 2012 for Arbitration and Mediation (Lithuania) by Best Lawyers.

Thank you very much for being available for this interview and answering our questions. I would like to start by asking you to briefly introduce yourself and tell us when and why you started working in the gambling industry.

Renata: I have been practicing law since 1992 and became an attorney-at-law in 1997. I joined Sorainen, which was then a small law firm, in 1999. Since then, Sorainen has become one of the leading law firms in the region, covering Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Belarus, with more than 190 lawyers specializing in 29 practice areas. Gambling law is one of the areas I have always been interested in. As our firm was expanding I received more and more opportunities to work on cases and assignments related to the gambling industry, which has gradually become one of my main fields of specialization.

You have a vast experience in this industry, and have been involved in many cases. So my next question would be: what is your opinion of the European gambling industry in general? What differences or similarities, what problems are worth talking about?

Renata: Countries from Western Europe may seem organized and unified, especially from a historical point of view, but each of them approaches the online gambling in a different manner. Ye, they share their citizens’ enthusiasm for gambling and are aware of the new sports betting platforms and casinos that anyone can access online. Not to mention that no country can ignore the growing financial revenues the online gambling industry can bring to the economy. Such countries are currently following the trend of more strict regulation as notwithstanding the advantages of gambling industry, gambling might pose significant social and psychological risks. This trend to regulate online gambling is constant and legislative evolution can be expected in the upcoming years.

You were a member of the national group from Lithuania at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2011-2017. You were also elected a member of the Commission on Arbitration and mediation of the Lithuanian Business Confederation as well as the chair of that Commission. Can you share your opinion about the actual situation of the gambling industry in Lithuania?

Renata: In 2016 we had thirteen companies operating in the gambling industry – six for online gambling and four lottery organizers.

What is your opinion of the legislative framework in East European countries?  Can you briefly compare this with the situation in Lithuania as far as the online gambling industry is concerned?  

Renata: The gambling industry in Western Europe has developed slightly differently compared to East European countries, which for a long time were in different historical circumstances. However, the situation in East European countries is rapidly changing and it is difficult to predict the future in such an environment.

The Lithuanian market, for example, is highly competitive and hard to enter. This is very different from the UK, which is the largest gambling market in Europe and while also competitive, it is not as difficult to enter due to its legislation. However, East European countries have discovered the high potential of online/iGaming and are now taking steps to become part of the global gambling industry.

Can you tell our readers how to license a gambling venue in Lithuania? Is this a difficult and complicated process? What do entrepreneurs who are interested need to know?

Renata: The latest changes in our legislation for the online gambling business require entities wishing to become online operators to establish a physical office in Lithuania and to have local land-based gambling establishments as well as quite high authorised capital of the company. This change in the law has been heavily criticized and is also seen as a political decision. Some of our clients even have considered taking a case to the ECJ regarding this change.

In your opinion is it easy and profitable for a foreign operator to enter the Lithuanian gambling market?

Renata: The market is quite competitive, heavily regulated, and the requirements are complex. In my opinion it is difficult to enter the market. When the European Commission came down hard on six European Union member states back in 2013 for not having done enough to regulate online gambling, Lithuania rolled out a new gambling law that came into force on 1 January 2016. The Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority (LGCA), which is part of the Ministry of Finance, has imposed strict penalties for establishments and individuals that violate the new gambling law and has extensively publicized and promoted these new measures to ensure that everyone in the country is aware of the new procedures.

Gambling operators need to be licensed to operate in Lithuania. The new gambling law here is quite similar to the gambling legislation in Belgium, which to my knowledge requires all remote gambling operators to establish themselves or form a partnership with a land-based casino in Lithuania to continue running their online gambling platforms.

Gambling companies wishing to run a licensed online operation here must have share capital of EUR 1,158,000 and a company incorporated in Lithuania. In 2013-2015 Lithuania saw significant growth of illegal gambling websites. The new legislation imposes stiff fines and penalties on establishments operating without a licence.

In the past, gambling establishments were free to offer gifts and bonuses to players to encourage them to continue to gamble. The new gambling legislation now prohibits gambling operators from offering any kind of gifts to players once they start playing and also prevents operators from promoting or advertising any kind of contests, trial bets and lotteries outside their physical establishments or online websites.

What do you think about the future of the gambling market, in your country in particular and Eastern Europe in general?

Renata: There are constant changes in the world of gambling. I believe that the eastern part of our continent will soon follow in keeping up with the increasing pace of online gambling development. The emerging online gambling industry in Eastern Europe is attracting wide interest and consistent financial investment from suppliers and operators throughout the industry and despite the fragmented nature of national territories and the various local jurisdictions set in place, the high potential available in the region offers interesting opportunities. The European gambling industry is going through a period of change and an increasing number of countries throughout the Old Continent are adopting and enforcing gambling legislation. This change affects the European industry and is forcing a major shift in mentality, where operators, suppliers and regulators need to cooperate in order to develop their businesses. As East European countries regulate and approve online gambling in Europe, all major software suppliers need to adapt and conform to local regulatory frameworks in the targeted countries.

If you could change anything in the world of gambling what would that be?

Renata: In my opinion the gambling industry would benefit the most from increased transparency, high competition between operators and sufficient social education to ensure the protection of vulnerable persons but also to help change the society’s opinion on gambling, to help people understand that gambling can be a fun and safe form of entertainment.

Tell us about your future plans and projects in your professional life.

Renata: I will continue as an active member of the Sorainen team and to specialize in gambling, data protection, IP and IT law, making sure to learn new things every day.

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EEGReport Magazine Issue8

Interview with Janis Laganovskis – Head Of Division at Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection Latvia



Main focus: Latvian gambling market update

I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. First I would kindly ask you to shortly introduce yourself.

Janis: I have been working for Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection since 2004 and most of this time my responsibilities have been more related with licensing issues which is more or less paper work. My current position in Lotteries and gambling supervisory inspection is Head of 2nd division of Control department and I am responsible for online gambling supervisory and control. This is really interesting continuation from licensing stuff to practical supervisory and control of online gambling operators.

You have rich experience in gaming and gambling industries. How would you characterize the Latvian gambling market and what changes can you relate about?

Janis: To characterize Latvian gambling market we have to talk about two parts – land based gambling and online gambling. Big role of land base gambling progress in Latvia are in local government hands, because city and county council members are entitled to decide about operating gambling in the each particular premises. Since this law came into force in 2006 very few local municipality permits to operate gambling have been issued, especially in Riga city, which makes more than half of Latvia’s gambling market.

Things started moving in 2016, when Saeima (the Parliament) adopted the amendment in law on gambling and lotteries, which determines, that casinos can be established in the four or five stars hotels, without the permit of the local government. After that two new casinos were opened in Riga.

From the picture bellow (data from Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection) we can see that the number of gaming equipment hasn’t reached the level that was before the financial crisis. However, the good thing is that number is growing.

The total turnover of gambling companies has exceeded pre-crisis level (~ 294 million EUR).

If we look on online gambling market, than we see that it is growing really fast. From 2008 when first online operating license was issued to 2017 when we had eight licensed online gambling operators. Since 2016 it has no longer been required to keep online operator servers in Latvia, and this made easier to operate for international operators.  I think online gambling sector will continue growing rapidly and it will take away the market share from land based gambling.

One more important thing is gambling advertising. At the moment gambling advertising is not allowed in Latvia. For online operators this issue is particularly sensitive. My opinion is that gambling advertising should be allowed, but of course with strict restrictions.
What are the strong points of this market?

Janis: Latvian gambling market is strong regulated market. We have strict requirements to obtain gambling operating license but at the same time those requirements are realistic and can be fulfilled. And only seriously targeted companies are obtaining gambling operating license. At the present we have 15 gambling operators and one lottery operator (state monopoly).

The state is trying to protect licensed gambling operators with all possible means  – IP and DNS blocking and payment blocking of unlicensed operators. Of course we can discuss how effective this blocking is and how it could be bypassed, but life shows that both – players and operators want to operate on the regulated market. Since we start blocking two new international gambling operators obtained gambling license.

How does the new taxation which will be introduced in 2018 influence the Latvian Gambling Market?

Janis: There are three significant amendments in Law on lotteries and gambling tax and fee. One is that from 2018 gambling tax on casino tables and slot machines have been raised by 30%. In my opinion there might be a fall of number of gambling tables and slot machines in short term, but at the end of the year it will start to grow.

The second amendment is that lotteries and gambling winnings which exceed €3000 will be imposed by income tax. Tax rate is 23% from the winning from €3000 to €55000 and 31,4% for the part of winning which exceeds €55000. It imposes additional obligations to gambling operators, because they will be required to withhold taxes.

The third amendment provides new type of license for live (gambling filming) studios. All companies who provide such services have to submit application in Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection and receive live studio service license till the 31st of March 2018. License fee will depend on how many equipment company operates. If more than 25 gambling equipment (including card games, dice games and roulette tables and lototron), are used for the provision of gambling services, than state fee is € 400000 a year. But if the company operates 25 or less gambling equipment, than state fee is € 120000. Before these amendments were adopted there had been two bigger companies and several small companies who provided such services. At the moment it is hard to say what kind of impact it will take to this sector.

What is your opinion about the European gambling industry in general? What differences or similarities, problems are there, that worth talking about? What is your opinion about the legislation framework of the East European countries? 

Janis: Of course the gambling industry across the Europe is colorful. Each country has its own gambling traditions and habits. How the gambling is regulated is also different – from monopolistic regimes to open market. However, everybody sees the potential of online gambling and that is why we can see that countries are adopting and revising their gambling legislation of past years.

If we look from the regulators’ side, we see that all states have pretty much the same objectives – consumer protection and fair competition. But as the gambling sector is not harmonized in EU so each state has different compliance requirements in their legislation. What we could see in the past years that many EU countries updated their regulations especially regarding online gambling. For example Lithuania started licensing online operators in 2016, but the online operator must also open land based casino in the country. The same requirement is also in some other countries and it was also in Latvia until 2016. In my opinion to work on sectors is not the best solution – it makes no sense to request online operators to open also land base venue – this is totally different product.  One thing that is similar in Europe is that the online gambling sector is expanding rapidly.

What do you think about the future of the Latvian and East European gambling industry?

Janis: I think there will not be any significant changes in land based gambling sector in Latvia, but the online gambling sector will continue growing. From the picture bellow we can see, that online gambling is taking market share from land based slot machines. We saw this trend in the past years and I think online market will grow up to 20 -25% in next few years. And I think the trend from offline to online will continue also in Europe.

(data from Lotteries and gambling Supervisory inspection)


Tell us please about your future plans, projects regarding your professional life.

Janis: From last year my responsibilities have changed. I moved from licensing area to gambling controlling so I have to learn a lot of things, especially in online sector which is developing continuously. I will also have to work with issues related AML and for me this is also new area. So I expect a lot of new and interesting challenges. It will be interesting.

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