Lithuanian Supreme Court Issues Decision Against Radio Station in Dispute Over Lottery Game

OCR Editor. - January 13, 2023
Law and Order

In a recent ruling, the Lithuanian Supreme Court has sided against a radio station in a dispute over a lottery game. The specific details of the case and the radio station's debates have not been disclosed. The Supreme Court's decision marks the final step in the legal procedure and cannot be appealed. It is still being determined how this ruling will impact the radio station's operations or the broader lottery industry in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Gambling Supervisory Authority launched an investigation into radio station SZ in February 2021 over concerns that a contest it was running violated national lottery laws. The competition, which ran from February 1 to March 5, 2021, required listeners to text the station and correctly identify a song or series of songs being played on the radio. Participants who sent an SMS text were charged €1 and had to enter before the selected song ended.

Those who were able to name the song were entered into a drawing to win prizes of €30, €300, or €3,000, with a total prize fund of €30,000. In September 2021, the regulator imposed a fine of €900 on the radio station for violating regulations. The District Court of Vilnius City upheld this decision in December 2021, and the Vilnius District Court rejected the appeal by the radio station in January 2022. The Lithuanian Supreme Court has now also ruled against the radio station, bringing the legal process to a close.

The radio station's lawyer reopened the case in April, and the dispute was brought before the Lithuanian Supreme Court for a hearing the following month. After reviewing the case, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Vilnius District Court, stating that the game in question met the criteria for being considered a lottery-style game under Lithuanian law.

These criteria included the requirement to pay money to enter, the element of chance, and the availability of monetary or in-kind prizes. The Supreme Court determined that the game satisfied all of these criteria, as participants had to text in at a premium rate, were entered into a random draw to win a prize, and the award was a sum of money.

Therefore, the Supreme Court ruled that the game violated national laws on lotteries and gambling and upheld the original decision to penalize the radio station. In addition, the Court emphasized that lotteries, like other forms of gambling, can harm people's health, lead to addiction, result in financial harm, and be used for criminal activities such as money laundering and fraud. For these reasons, the Court stated that any form of the lottery must be licensed and strictly regulated by the state. Those offering to gamble must adhere to transparency, fairness, and financial stability standards.

The Ruling

The ruling against the radio station follows a recent decision by the Gambling Supervisory Authority to impose a fine on licensed gaming operator Top Sport for violating regulations regarding CCTV at its retail betting facilities. As a result, top Sport was fined €15,000 for improperly installing a digital video recording system at a betting and slot location in Vilnius. This marks the second time in recent months that Top Sport has received a fine in Lithuania for inadequate CCTV installation at a retail betting facility, having also been fined €15,000 in September for the same offense.

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