Latvian gambling venues reopen after Covid-19 shutdown

| By Robert Fletcher
Latvian regulator Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspectorate has confirmed that all land-based gambling venues across the country are now permitted to reopen following a novel coronavirus (Covid-19) shutdown.

Venues including gaming halls, betting shops and casinos were able to resume operations from 15 June, having been closed since 9 November last year.

The regulator said the reopening of facilities would be contingent on operators abiding by certain rules related to Covid-19, including social distancing measures and capacity limits.

Venues will also be able to operate between the hours of 6am and 10pm until Covid-19 rules are relaxed further in Latvia.

The reopening marks the end of the second period of closure for gambling venues, with facilities having first closed their doors on 6 April last year, not opening up again until 9 June.

In the early days of the pandemic, Latvia also banned all online gambling while the country was in lockdown.

Signed by the country’s president Egils Levits, the initial version of the country’s emergency Covid-19 bill left the status of igaming unclear. It called for a prohibition on gambling and lotteries “except for interactive gambling, numerical lotteries and instant lotteries”.

However, in the next article of the bill, it said 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, later clarified to iGB that all online gambling sites were obliged to halt operations.

The most recent set of data published by the country’s government yesterday (16 June) showed 156 new cases of Covid-19 and 11 related deaths.

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