On 14 July 2021, Cabinet Order No. 509 – Guidelines for gambling and lottery policy for 2021–2027 – entered into force. The new guidelines were established with the aim of facilitating the protection of the public interest and reducing the risks associated with gambling and lotteries, and significant changes to the gambling regulations are planned in addition.
The guidelines consist of six courses of action:
- Addiction recovery, prevention and support for players with gambling addiction, and educational activities for the public. Raising of the age requirement for gambling to 21, nationwide promotion of public awareness of the risks of gambling addiction, and organising of educational campaigns in schools.
- Enforcement of the prohibition on gambling and lotteries advertising, and of requirements for visual presentation. The Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection (IAUI) will be responsible for enforcing the prohibition of gambling and lotteries advertising, and enforcing new requirements for trademarks and signboards, Latvijas Loto will be obliged to be certified by the European Lottery Association’s Responsible Gaming Standard.
- Regulation of access to gambling and lotteries. The regulatory enactments will lay down additional criteria for the opening of new gambling sites in the vicinity of educational institutions, and increase the minimum number of gambling machines per gambling hall from 20 to 25 units.
- Limiting of the unlicensed gambling market. IAUI will have the rights to block or restrict access to web pages which contain advertisements for gambling; there will be an informative campaign about the risks associated with participation in unlicensed gambling and lotteries.
- Monitoring of tendencies in the gambling and lotteries sector. Preparation of publications and informative material, systematised compilation of statistics, and retrospective evaluation of tendencies.
- Improvement of the monitoring process carried out by IAUI. Amendments to existing laws in order to ensure exchange of information between IAUI and VID on sums paid to physical persons, and retention of video recordings of gambling locations for 30 days.
One of the most significant changes regarding urban areas is the prohibition of gambling sites within 250m of pre-school educational institutions and basic and secondary education institutions, and in the vicinity of public recreational grounds, as well as a general prohibition on the organisation of gambling in residential buildings. Another significant change is the plan to introduce a personalised “smart card” system for in-person gambling, which would allow players to set deposit limits and temporary access restrictions.
The institution responsible for coordinating the implementation of the guidelines is the Ministry of Finance, but active participation in achieving the set targets is expected from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture, the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (SPKC), and local governments, as well as other institutions.