Most Popular Bookies in Latvia

Sports betting has been popular in Latvia for quite a long time now. The popularity increased dramatically when online sports betting sites came about, starting in the late 1990s. That was because more punters could access betting services with much ease. Sports betting sites also offer a wider variety of sports betting markets, typically featuring all types of mainstream games.

Currently, sports betting is the most popular type of gambling in the country, surpassing all casino games. Numerous sports betting providers, local and international, have flooded the Latvian market to take advantage of the growing popularity. As a result, new punters can easily get overwhelmed when scouting for the best bookmaker. Below are a few considerations to help online bettors make the right choice.

Most Popular Bookies in Latvia
Sports betting in Latvia

Sports betting in Latvia

Sports variety

Bookies usually offer a long list of betting markets in several sports disciplines, which fascinates most sports bettors. However, some bookmakers focus on mainstream sports and popular tournaments. Punters looking to bet on particular tournaments or sports must ensure that the betting site offers the relevant markets.

Licensing & customer service

Choosing a licensed sports betting site is beneficial to punters as it accords them some protection from the licensing Authority. That also helps to filter out scam betting sites. The quality of customer support services is key. Bettors should be able to access assistance from customer support representatives fast and easily whenever they experience technical issues.

Sports betting in Latvia
History of gambling in Latvia

History of gambling in Latvia

Gambling activities took place in Latvia long before the country got its independence in 1991. However, gambling was not popular as the Soviet Union, which the Republic of Latvia was a part of, had strict restrictions on gambling activities. The first casino in Latvia was opened within a year of gaining independence. Several others opened within the next half a decade.

At the time, there was no regulatory authority to govern gambling operations. The laws were also unclear regarding the regulation of gambling. The negative effects of gambling became so widespread that the government had to do something about it. In 1998, the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection Act was passed, which became the standard that all gambling operations had to follow.

The Control Department was established as the main regulatory body of the gambling industry in the country. The Licensing and Financial Analysis Division was also established, responsible for providing gambling licenses to Latvian gambling operators. That led to the closure of many gambling establishments. Online gambling soon started growing in popularity almost immediately after the introduction of the new laws.

Significant historical changes

The most significant change in the Latvian gambling history came about in 1991 when the country got its independence and gambling became legal. That ideally marked the creation of the Latvian gambling industry. The next significant historical change was in 1998. That was when gambling became regulated in the country after the introduction of new gambling laws.

History of gambling in Latvia
Betting nowadays in Latvia

Betting nowadays in Latvia

The Latvian sports betting industry is currently thriving, with the number of active punters increasing each day. According to the Latvian laws, punters are allowed to bet only using licensed Latvian betting sites. Such sites are limited, but the few available provide great services to ensure user satisfaction. Despite the limitations, many punters still use international betting sites to bet on their favorite sports. Hundreds of international betting sites accept Latvian punters.

The government has never filed legal charges against any punter for using the services of international betting providers. That is mostly because of the difficulty in regulating the international gambling industry. That is especially with improving technologies that offer enhanced privacy, such as VPNs and encryption software. However, the government has taken several measures to prevent or discourage punters from using international betting sites, a few of which are highlighted below.

Block-listing

The Latvian government began block listing international and unlicensed local betting websites in 2014. The first list of block-listed betting websites had 20 names, including some of the biggest names in the industry at the time. Several years later, the government has added tens of other names to the block list. Block listing means that internet services providers in Latvia are not allowed to provide their users with access to block-listed sites.

Blocked transactions

The Latvian government went a step further by blocking payment processing related to all the block-listed betting sites. It did so by making it illegal for payment method providers to process deposits or withdrawals made to or from the block-listed websites. However, access to international payment options has made this measure ineffective nowadays. There are also many new international casinos springing up at a rate higher than the government is blocking them.

Future of betting in Latvia

Experts predict that sports betting in Latvia will continue to thrive for a long time. That is thanks to the supportive gambling laws in the country, fueled by the government's need for the revenue derived from the industry. Sports are also becoming more popular, with more sports tournaments organized each year, resulting in increased betting markets. That will, in turn, result in an increased number of punters betting on the sports.

Betting nowadays in Latvia
Betting legislation in Latvia

Betting legislation in Latvia

The legal history of betting in Latvia is rather short, dating back to 1991 when Latvia gained independence. Latvian players began betting on sports and other events almost immediately after gaining independence, but there were no laws regarding the gambling industry regulation. Sports betting activities took place in an unregulated industry until 1998 when the Law on Gambling and Lotteries was passed to regulate all forms of gambling in the Republic of Latvia. The same law is used to control the industry, albeit with minor amendments.

According to the Latvian Law on Gambling and Lotteries, betting is defined as gambling in which a punter deposits a bet and forecasts the occurrence of events, the possibility of an event happening or not happening or anything else that may be true or false. Depending on the total sum of deposited bets, win rate, results, or forecast, a prize must be attached to the bet. The law prohibits betting on events that have already occurred or those for which the results are already known.

The regulator

The Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority is the primary regulator of gambling in Latvia, as per The Cabinet and the State Revenue Service. The Authority is charged with implementing state policies, providing licenses to qualified operators, supervising and controlling gambling in the country, developing draft regulatory enactments, ensuring statistical analysis and systematic accounting of the gambling market, registering gambling machines, administering gambling taxes, and maintaining the self-restricted persons' register.

Remote sports betting

The law allows only licensed online betting operators to provide sports betting services to Latvian punters. Operators can obtain one of two types of licenses. The first one is a fully-fledged gambling license. That allows the operators to provide betting services online and in land-based casinos. The other type of license is an interactive gambling license. That enables operators to offer sports betting services online only.

Betting legislation in Latvia
The licensing process

The licensing process

Sports betting providers must meet certain criteria to be eligible for gambling operating licenses. For starters, the license applicant must be a capital company registered in the country with a paid-up share capital of more than €1.4 million. Foreign participants or shareholders cannot have more than 49% of the company's share capital.

The capital company must submit a license application to the Gambling and Lotteries Supervisory Authority to apply for a license. The application must be accompanied by copies of the company's financial statements if the company is involved in commercial activities, information on credit obligations, proof of availability and origin of financial capital for the betting business, a development plan, and statements from the members of council and board of the company.

The Authority can take up to 90 days from the date of application to decide on the issuance of the license, assuming no additional document or information is requested. Licenses are issued for indefinite periods but must be reregistered with the Authority annually. The Authority also reserves the right to suspend licenses in case of violations. Licenses can be suspended after written warnings have been issued.

Taxation

The Latvian law requires all licensed gambling companies to pay taxes per prescribed procedures. The tax rates depend on what the gambling companies offer. Companies must pay 15% of all revenues obtained in a calendar year for sports betting services. Punters must also pay taxes on their winnings, but only if winnings within a taxation year exceed €3,000.

Legal gambling age

The legal gambling age in Latvia is 18 years, though most licensed casinos nowadays have a restriction of 21 years. That applies to all types of online gambling, including online betting. Online betting operators are responsible for verifying the age and identity of all punters.

The licensing process
Latvian players' favorite games

Latvian players' favorite games

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is Latvia's national sport. The country has numerous talented professional players in the sport who play in some of the most prominent leagues. The popularity of the sport has attracted numerous Latvian punters. Most punters have a good understanding of the sport, enabling them to make informed betting decisions that maximize their winning chances.

Basketball

Basketball is another sport that has been popular in Latvia for several decades. The country was among the eight founders of the International Basket Federation. The Latvian national basketball team went on to win the first FIBA championship, which took place in 1965. The many basketball events taking place locally and internationally give Latvian punters numerous betting markets.

Football

Football is the world's most popular sport, with numerous fans in Latvia. Punters can always be sure of finding numerous football betting markets as there are usually hundreds of football tournaments organized each year globally. Football matches also typically offer a wide variety of betting types and options.

Winter sports

Winter sports are also very popular in Latvia. Such include luge, bobsleigh, and skeleton racing. Most native Latvian athletes usually excel in the sports, helping to popularize the sports even further. Punters take pride in the performances and most often bet on their teams and players as a show of support.

Latvian players' favorite games
Payment methods in Latvia

Payment methods in Latvia

Credit Cards

Credit cards are, by far, the most popular payment method among Latvian punters. Credit cards are the most widely accepted payment method on online betting sites. That helps increase the number of options punters have when choosing suitable online betting sites. Credit cards are also relatively easy to use. Punters only need to type in their card information and amount to make deposits. However, credit cards typically do not support withdrawals.

E-Wallets

Latvian punters have numerous e-wallets at their disposal, which are generally easy to use and secure. E-wallets are popular mostly because they support withdrawals on most sports betting sites. E-wallets also typically offer lower deposit limits.

Direct Bank Transfer

Direct bank transfers are also becoming quite popular among Latvian punters. Most banks in the country nowadays offer online banking services, which makes the process of direct bank transfer fast and easy. A top benefit of the payment method is higher transfer limits, which is beneficial to high rollers. The payment method is also very secure.

Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are slowly gaining popularity, especially among elite bettors. That is because they are arguably the most secure methods of payment, which come with the added benefit of anonymity. The main drawback with cryptocurrency payments is that the process is rather complex.

Payment methods in Latvia
FAQs

FAQs

Is betting on sports online legal in Latvia?

Online sports betting is legal in Latvia. However, that is the case lonely when betting on a locally licensed online betting site as the Latvian laws prohibit punters from using international betting sites. Despite the laws, numerous international betting sites accept Latvia punters. The Latvian government has also never prosecuted punters for using international gambling sites. Punters must also be 18 years or older to bet on sports.

Does the Latvian government tax bettors?

Latvian bettors must pay taxes on their winnings, but only if they are equal to or more than €3,000. The tax rates are 24% for winnings between €3,000 and €55,000 and 31.4% for winnings amounting to more than €55,000.

Do Latvian online sports betting sites offer bonuses?

Almost all online betting sites in Latvia offer bonuses. Each betting site offers unique combinations of bonuses regarding type and amount. The main goal most betting operators offer bonuses is to attract more punters to their platforms.

Are Latvian punters allowed to have multiple betting accounts?

There are no limitations regarding the number of betting accounts Latvian punters can have. Having multiple betting accounts can be crucial when using various betting strategies. However, punters should limit the number of accounts to something they can manage. Some betting websites also limit the number of betting accounts

FAQs