Latvia’s gambling regulator has asked for clarity on the status of online gambling following new emergency laws passed by the country's government to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
On Sunday (22 March), the country’s president, Egils Levits, signed a bill setting out measures to prevent and manage national threats and consequences of Covid-19 proliferation that was passed by the country’s parliament on 20 March.
The law orders all casinos, gambling halls, bingo halls and betting locations in Latvia to close in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
The status of online gambling remains unclear, however. The bill calls for a prohibition on gambling and lotteries “except for interactive gambling, numerical lotteries and instant lotteries.”
In the next article of the bill, it then says that the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority “shall suspend all gambling licenses for physical gambling venues,… interactive media and/or via electronic communication services”.
Janis Ungurs, director of the legal department of the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority, told iGB that the Authority awaits legal clarification on the two seemingly contradictory articles of the law, but it is prepared to suspend online licences if the law calls for it.
“Inspection orders regarding online licenses will be issued within the next few days, when we receive legal clarification from parliament's legal office and Ministry of Justice about legal interpretation of these two chapters,” Ungurs said.
On 13 March, the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority announced that it will not receive visitors in person from 13 March this year until 14 April 2020.
The outbreak of the virus has already caused casinos around the world to close. Over the weekend, both the UK and Australia’s Prime Ministers ordered the closure of all casinos and betting shops in their countries as part of social distancing measures.