Tuesday September 2,2014 : WHY LATVIA IS ENFORCING ITS BLACKLIST
Online gambling was legalised in 2006, so why is it only recently that the regulator has jumped into enforcement?
Latvia's sudden rash of black listings of operators accessing its market without licensing has surprised many, given the nation's somewhat passive approach to enforcement since online gambling was legalised back in 2006.
The explanation this week came from the regulator itself, when Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection (IUAUI) director, Signe Birne, told Poker News that political pressure had been applied following the granting of licenses to four prominent online gambling companies, with further applications in the pipeline.
Birne said that the issue of licenses "…led to a strong political pressure to stop the illegal businesses, and that's why we have started to block the unlicensed sites," and added, "Advertisement and the activities of illegal operators became too aggressive, and that obliged us to proceed with the block of the sites and of all the transactions related to their operations."
The sudden leap in activity may also be associated with changes in Latvia's Electronic Communications Law, which regulates ISP blocking of illegal operators. These were voted in on November 6, 2013, and came into force on August 1, 2014.
The regulator revealed that many operators had been discouraged from licensing in Latvia by the high costs involved and strict requirements demanded, but said that this could be the subject of change in the future. A draft of reforms had been submitted to government in 2011, but the process had been bogged down by lobbying and debate.
Birne is optimistic that progress will be made later this year once the October parliamentary elections are over, and says that a number of key Ministry of Finance officials are supportive of change.
The Latvian regulator recently held discussions on general regulatory matters with ARJEL, the French online gambling regulator.