Lithuanian Supreme Court rejects offshore operator’s appeal for warning

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court has rejected an appeal from unlicensed operator Interstorm Curaçao that argued the Gambling Supervisory Authority must warn offshore operators before taking action to shut down their sites.

The regulator issued an order for Interstorm – which operates the SLL365 website for Casino Shangri-La – to stop promoting unlicensed online gambling in Lithuania in May 2020.
However, the operator filed an appeal with the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court that month, arguing that it had not received any warning before the regulator took action.
The court rejected this appeal, noting that there was no requirement for the Gambling Supervisory Authority to warn unlicensed operators.
The operator then took its appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court, but this court agreed with the lower ruling.
The Supreme Administrative Court noted that being able to quickly block sites was a central component in the Supervisory Authority’s powers against online gambling, and that requiring a warning would weaken those powers.
Elsewhere, a customer that had suffered from gambling-related harm applied to the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court with a case against the countryc government, arguing that it had not done enough to limit gambling advertisements in public places.
As a result of these ads, the complainant argued, he had been induced to revert back to problematic gambling habits and thus suffered actual harm.
The complainant asked for €10,000 in damages, plus interest.
In January 2021, the court dismissed his complaint, but the complainant appealed this to the Supreme Administrative Court.
However, this court found that there was “no legal basis” to find that the customer had suffered a compensable form of damage.
The court said it was important to consider whether gambling advertising “is a consequence of advertising or an expression of the effect of the psychophysiological characteristics of the personality which is legally unjustified and denies the existence of statutory damages”.
It also noted that since 2016, players have had the option to self-exclude from gambling. It said the player’s decision not to self-exclude would have to also be considered in the factors that contributed to them engaging in harmful gambling.
Last year Lithuania introduced wide-reaching restrictions on gambling marketing, banning – among other things – bonuses.
Since those rules came into effect, the regulator has issued fines for violations of the ban, including fining Enlabs last week for sending an email that explained the terms and conditions of a number of new games.