Casino development in Latvia
During the Soviet Union, the Baltic republics, including Latvia, were in a more privileged position compared with other republics that formerly belonged to the Union. After the collapse of USSR and the declaration of republics by independent states, Latvia became one of the first countries where the development of gambling business began. At the same time, most of the casino houses were opened at the expense of foreign investors. In the future, the relations between the law and casinos developed in the following way in Latvia.
A bit of the history:
The first legal casino in Latvia was opened in the Riga Hotel, on one of the floors in the early 90's began to work gambling halls. The Swedish company was the investor, they quickly appreciated the attractiveness of the completely excluded consumer market of gamblers at the time. Investors were not even embarrassed by the fact that at that time the amount of income tax could be 63% in Latvia. After using ineffective legislation at that time or rather the section where the provisions on the conduct of gambling activities were described, investors opened not only legal but also illegal casino houses. The right of issuing documents for the opening of the casino was immediately in the hands of several departments, and it was not difficult to reach the agreement with the officials of the young republic.
The legalization of casinos in Latvia
In order to fight against the crime and money laundering, the Latvian government in the late 1990s passed a number of bills which can settle the gambling business and its full legalization. The compulsory registration of people who won a decent amount in the casino became the most effective lever that forced illegal casinos to get official status. The results were impressive – by the beginning of 2000s in this small country there have already been more than tens of thousands registered casinos.
A little later, after the law “About gambling and lotteries” was come out, part of the casino houses was forced to close, although it is possible that most of them could go to illegal position. However, at the same time, the foreign investment was allowed up to 100% of the authorized capital by legislation. The result of such liberalism became the dominance in the Latvian gambling market of representatives of large foreign holdings.
Network of the Garkalns casino houses:
Today, one of the most famous casinos in Latvia was the Garkalns company, which placed a whole network of casinos in the border areas, focusing on tourists and truck drivers. In Riga and in Jurmala, the emphasis is on large casinos providing customers with a full range of entertainment activities and high quality of service.
Latvia's accession to the European Union led to an increase in the influx of players from Germany, Poland and Sweden. Such the relevance allowed casino houses not only to approve their positions in the real sector, but also to dislodge the local casinos from the virtual gambling market that are considerably inferior to European casinos.
According to official information, today the income from casinos in Latvia is distributed in the following way: 80% - from slot machines, 11% - from lottery, the card tables and roulettes give up to 7% and only 2% - from online casino activity. However, such a calculation can be far from accurate, because the opportunities of virtual grounds can hide certain incomes from the state, it will be wrong to judge the effectiveness of online casinos registered in Latvia, according to such data.