1/14/10 – Betfair's Right2Bet campaign, which is keeping interested parties informed on legal developments in the online gambling world, focused on the Baltic States this week.
In an interesting article that complements our coverage of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in the region, Right2Bet discussed developments in Latvia and Estonia, which have capitalised on the ban the Russian and Ukrainian governments introduced on gambling last year.
Despite its citizens' pronounced yen for the pastime, Russia now permits gambling in only a few remote and as yet undeveloped corners of the country, whilst the indications are that only a change in government is likely to improve the situation in the Ukraine.
"The tiny countries, with a combined population of around 2.5 million, were once part of the Soviet Union, and still count a significant number of Russians and Russian speakers amongst their population, making it an ideal location to take advantage of tourist trade from the wealthy Western cities of Russia," Right2Bet notes.
"Gambling has long been a favoured, legal pastime in Latvia, with the gaming industry there reportedly accounting for $125 million worth of revenue in 2005. However, it is only in the past few weeks that Estonia has relaxed its stance.
The article goes on to discuss the financial travails of Estonia and surmises that the revenue streams enjoyed by its Baltic neighbour Latvia, and the prospect of a possible influx of Russian gambling tourists, has launched a review into the laws surrounding the activity.
The country's gambling regulations will go through gradual change, Right2Bet reports, unlike many other nations which have quickly introduced or withdrawn legalization almost overnight, with 2010 seeing Estonians citizens and tourists permitted to gamble online or off for the first time… but only with Estonian-registered sports books and casinos.
"Estonia is going from a near total ban on gambling to a very liberal system; it's only natural that the government and customers should favour a small ‘learning curve' before they hit 2011, from which point foreign companies will be allowed to enter the market," Right2Bet advises.
The Right2bet petition for the liberalisation of online gambling in Europe is still available for all to sign at www.right2bet.net.