Lithuanian court upholds penalty for phone-in competition

The Lithuanian Supreme Court concluded that all forms of lottery require a licence.
The Lithuanian Supreme Court concluded that all forms of lottery require a licence.

The Lithuania Gambling Supervisory Authority had said the phone-in resembled a lottery game.

Lithuania.- The Lithuanian Supreme Court has upheld the gambling regulator’s penalty against a radio station for a phone-in competition. In 2021, The Lithuania Gambling Supervisory Authority said the station, named only as SZ, had breached national lottery laws with a competition that resembled a lottery game.

Run from February 1 to March 5 2021, the game invited listeners to text the radio station to identify a song, or a series of songs, being played on the radio. The SMS were charged at €1 a time. Entrants who named the song correctly before it finished playing were put into a prize draw to win cash of €30, €300 or €3,000 from a prize fund of €30,000.

In September 2021, the regulator hit the radio station with a financial penalty of €900 after its investigation concluded that the game breached Article 134, Part 2 of the Code of Administrative Offences. The Vilnius City District Court upheld the decision in December 2021 and rejected an appeal in January 2022.

However, last April the radio station took the matter to the Supreme Court, which has now upheld the original decision. The court agreed that the game had the characteristics of a lottery-style game under the definition in Lithuanian law.

This definition includes the requirement to buy a ticket or pay to enter, an element of chance and luck, and the presence of monetary or in-kind prizes. All three criteria were met since players had to text at a premium rate and winners were chosen at random.

The court said lotteries and all gambling can damage people’s health and cause negative financial consequences. As such, all forms of lottery must be licensed and strictly controlled by the state.

Top Sport hit with another fine in Lithuania

The Gambling Supervisory Authority has again fined Top Sport for breaching regulations regarding video recording in gambling venues. It’s been hit with a €15,000 penalty for failing to properly install a digital video recording system at a betting and slots venue in the capital Vilnius. It received a similar penalty in September last year.

The regulator issued the fine following an inspection in which it found that videos recorded at the venue had poor image quality and that employee actions at the cash desk were not clearly visible. It was sometimes not possible to see how much money was being paid in and out.

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