EEGReport Magazine: The Latvian online gambling sector is quite mature market, what are the recent developments in the market? Are foreign operators allowed to apply for a license?
Latvian gambling market is regulated from 1994. Hoverer modern gambling market (as we know it today) is from 01.01.2006, when Gambling and Lotteries Law came into force. Since this law was adopted, there haven’t been significant changes in law. Online gambling became very popular in 2012 in Latvia and gambling operators were interested in obtaining the license. Pervious was only one operator who operates online and there was offered only one game type – sports betting. But situation changed in 2013 when three more operators obtained online gambling license and started to offer full range of gambling online (slots, card games, roulette, betting). Two more online licenses were issued on 2014. And reacting on growth of online market there was necessity to update gambling regulation. Changes in Law on Lotteries and Gambling tax and fee were adopted in the end of 2015. From 2016 operators can obtain license to operate only online. Because previous regulation provided, that license to operate interactive gambling can be issued to the companies, which have received land base Gambling operating license.
Main requirements for operator to obtain Gambling operating license (land base and online):
Capital company registered in the Republic of Latvia;
Paid stock capital is not less than 1.4 million EUR;
Interest of foreign members or stockholders in the capital company stock capital shall not exceed 49 percent (these requirements doesn’t concern on EU, EEA and from January 1st 2016 also OECD member states.)
EEGReport Magazine: What is the key sectors in the Latvian gambling market based on niches? Sports betting, casino, poker?
Most popular games in Latvia are Slots and they take most part of the market – 77, 16%(on net revenues). Slots can be operated in slot machine hall (with minimum 20 machines) or casino. At present we have 334 slot machine halls and 5 casinos in Latvia. In 2015 online gambling took only 4, 55 % from all gambling market, but increase from the 2014 is more than 210%. And looking on activities in online gambling market we expect that this growth will continue also in 2016.
Gambling and lotteries net revenues (2015 9 months)
EEGReport Magazine: Who are the key operators at the moment and how is the taxing done in percentages?
There are 13 licensed Gambling operators and one Lottery operator (state monopoly) in Latvia. But top four companies create 79 percent of all industry net revenue. These companies are SIA “ALFOR” – largest slot machine operator (almost 30 % of all slot machines in market), SIA “Olympic Casino Latvia”, SIA “Joker LTD” and SIA “Admirāļu klubs”. SIA “ALFOR”, SIA “Olympic Casino Latvia” and SIA “Joker LTD” have also received online gambling operating license.
Land base gambling taxation:
Gambling tax is collected from each equipped or installed gambling venue for each calendar year in accordance with the following rates:
- roulette, card and dice games – 18000 euro per each table;
- Slot machines – 3204 euro per each game place.
Tax from Betting (land base) – 15% of GGR.
Tax from Bingo – 10% of GGR.
Online gaming tax regardless of the type of game is 10% of GGR.
EEGReport Magazine: What advice would you give to potential new entrants considering Latvia (operators, affiliates, suppliers etc.)?
Since 2006 there haven’t been significant changes in legislation and technical standards regarding gambling and also not planned in nearest future in Latvia. In a result of good cooperation of Lotteries and gambling supervisory Inspection and certification bodies technical requirements are well known. We have very good infrastructure to develop online gaming business – we have one of the fastest internet speeds in the world and rather low labor costs. Welcome to Latvia!
EEGReport Magazine: Looking further afield, where are the major emerging opportunities in Eastern Europe for operators at this moment?
Despite the fact that Latvian gambling market organization is more based on Western European system principles, biggest draw is new opening markets – for example huge Ukraine market, but this is associated also with bigger risk, because there are always unanswered questions regarding legislation and technical regulations. I think the major emerging opportunities (not only in Eastern Europe) are in online and mobile gambling, which is growing in enormous pace.