Latvian court overules ban on gambling venues in Riga

Riga City Council
Riga City Council

The court has ruled that the order to close 139 gambling venues breached constitutional law.

Latvia.- The Constitutional Court has ruled against Riga Council in its decision to shut down 139 gambling venues in the Latvian capital. Hearing an appeal from some of the operators affected, the court found that the decision breached constitutional law.

Riga city council closed down the venues under a “Security, Order and Corruption Prevention” decree that would have restricted gambling to four- and five-star hotels from 2025. The council said the move was intended to protect 80,000 residents who are vulnerable to problem gambling. However, the operators Admiral Klubs, Alfors, Joker Ltd, and Olympic Casino Latvia filed an appeal.

While the court found that municipalities do have the right to restrict gambling, Riga City Council had ignored certain requirements and technicalities, failing to justify the exclusion of gambling from functional zoning in its city plan. The court noted that commercial activity is a permissible use of zones affected and found that the council had breached constitutional law protecting the contractual rights of operators who have permits granted by the council.

In June, UK-listed 888 Holdings announced the completion of its sale of MrGreen.LV and WilliamHill.LV. It has sold its Latvian operations to Paf, the gambling operator owned by the regional government of Finland’s Åland Islands, for €28m.

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