New Bill Ending Closures Enables Latvia Picks Up Where It Left OffPublished June 22, 2020 by Lee R
The emergence of Latvia is underway again, and soon to bear fruits.
Before Covid-19, the Republic of Latvia was establsishing itself as one of iGaming’s “darling” emerging economies.
The Bill of Liberation
Let the emergence resume, as of June 9: the Latvian Parliament Saeima has passed a bill ending the state of emergency that had shut down legal gambling in the jurisdiction.
The resumption dates to March 22, when a bill was passed banning all land-based gambling in Latvia due to the pandemic--with iGaming explicitly added to the prohibitions on 6 April.
Opposing iGaming Shutdowns
At the time, Latvia-licensed operators argued that shutdowns of online gaming sites during the pandemic would merely drive players to unlicensed sites for illegal play.
Opening Things Up
Now, it appears the emerging republic can put those troubles in the rear view: Saeima’s new bill ends the state of emergency today (5 June), paving the way for land-based and online sites to open.
Lingering iGaming Opposition
The resolution did not come without a final wave of resistance: New Conservative Party deputies Krišjānis Feldmans, Linda Ozola and Gatis Eglītis proposed an amendment to the new bill extending the suspension of retail gambling.
The NCP was staved off by the Latvian Gaming Business Association, who assured that retail gambling locations had sufficient protections in place to ensure safety against both the virus and problem gambling that were already in place before the pandemic struck.
Latvia’s Forward Thinking
The Association further unveiled a progressive multi-point “Action Plan” to prevent the spread of the virus, including limits of one person per 4 square metres; full disinfection of gaming machines and surfaces; ventilation of premises no more than every four hours; spacing of seats between gaming machines 2m apart and further unspecified “enhanced customer monitoring” measures.
With such a progressive agenda and clearance to resume iGaming, emerging Latvia could provide some superior performance data quite soon, with the chance to establish a leadership role in the industry’s recovery from the pandemic.