Gambling in Lithuania
Gambling in Lithuania, a Baltic state in Northern Europe, is legal. The final legalisation in Lithuania, that is, in the Republic of Lithuania took place in 2001. Sports betting, slot machines and bingo are especially popular in the country. Operations of land-based casinos are widely developed in Lithuania. Over 60 establishments are operating in the territory of the Republic. Most of them belong to the largest Lithuanian operator Casino Olympic. Despite of strict legislative limitations for online casinos, the websites of this format have been operating successfully in the territory of the Republic and have been available to most of the Lithuanian players.
Casinos in Lithuania
One of the largest providers of gambling services in Lithuania is OlyBet run by Olympic Casino. This is the very first licensed operator in the country that has the broadest network of land-based establishments. The resource features the following types of gambling entertainment: slot machines, emulators of table games, betting and lotteries. Even though many Internet resources were blocked, the players who are interested in a wide selection of games and favourable conditions have been able to find the ways to access the websites that they need.
Gambling Games in Lithuania
According to the ratings by OlyBet casino, these are the slots that are in most demand in Lithuania today: Volcano Eruption by NextGen, Gorilla Go Wild by NextGen Burning Hot by EGT, 40 Super Hot by EGT and Merlin’s Millions by NextGen. Just like in other states of the EU, the interest towards betting has been on the rise in Lithuania as well. Betting on basketball is especially sought after among the Lithuanian players, since this is the sport that is considered of national importance among the Lithuanians.
Gambling is regulated by Lithuania’s Gambling Control Authority under the Ministry of Finance headed by Virginijus Daukšys. Once the Republic proclaimed its independence back in 1990, gambling was legalised, but four years later a ban on this sort of activities came into force again. The situation changed in 2001. The law was passed, which made the gambling industry come out from the underground. These are the gambling games that are legal in Lithuania: Lotteries, casino table games and card games, slot machines, betting and bookmaking and bingo games The procedure of legalisation of gambling entertainment was lengthy and difficult. The Catholic Church, which is very powerful in Lithuania, was strongly against this initiative. Supporters of legalisation were appealing to the fact that gambling fans will find an opportunity to play in neighbouring states, which will not reduce any potential harm from gambling addiction, yet at the same time will deprive the country from earning a substantial profit. Besides, the gambling ban had an adverse effect on tourism in Lithuania. In 2000 the bill was still endorsed and came into force the next year.
The following types of licenses have been provided: Table games and Category A slot machines, Category B Slot machines, Sports betting, Bingo and Wagers The license is issued by the Committee once the approval has been received from the bodies of local governance. These type of operations cannot be run by persons with a criminal record or persons known for their ties with criminal groups. Gambling advertising in Lithuania is banned. Gambling establishments cannot be located in apartment buildings or in close proximity to health or educational institutions. Only marked and licensed equipment will be allowed to be used in the games. The founders are not allowed to conduct any other activities. Players can only gamble when they reach 18 years of age. Income tax on operations of gaming establishments is 15% and is paid once in a quarter.
The law came into effect in Lithuania in 2016 that clamped down on operations of online casinos. According to this regulatory act, the operator must enter into a partnership with a Lithuanian land-based establishment in order for the operations to be fully legitimate. The company's authorised capital must be at least 1,800,000 USD. While drawing up this legislative act, the Lithuanian authorities used a similar law in Belgium as an example, whose provisions are virtually identical.
Once the amendments to the gambling law were introduced, the black list of internet resources was compiled. Websites whose operations did not meet the new requirements were added to the list. There are international companies such as Unibet, William Hill and Betway ended up among the resources that were banned. Any financial institutions that support transactions with illicit online casinos are running the risk of being fined.
Development of Gambling Market in Lithuania
Restrictions on the operations of online casinos in Lithuania are strongly criticized by the European Commission, which allows for predicting further changes in the legislation, which in turn will make the situation for European operators more favourable and lenient. Similar precedents have already take place in Sweden and other members of the EU. Due to the requirements to provide free access to legitimate services of EU companies, governments of these states had to mitigate the requirements that were imposed earlier on. From the analysis of the current situation in the gambling industry in Lithuanian cyberspace, compared to other members of the European Union, one can claim that this segment of the entertainment industry is still at its incipient stage. The existing legislative framework gives rise to multiple criticism from players and international regulatory authorities. On the one hand, players have the opportunity to gain access to any resources that they are interested in, since no responsibility is implied for playing on foreign websites. On the other hand, the experience of other European states has shown that the laws will shift towards democratisation in regards to foreign operators in the near future. As far as land-based establishments are concerned, their operations are set up at a high level and are able to meet the requirements of players of all categories.Right now Lithuania does not have any companies that would develop gaming software. Nevertheless, developers such as MrSlotty and Tom Horn Gaming have their subsidiaries operating in the Republic. These are the companies whose games are in demand in Lithuania:EGT, NetEnt, Novomatic, Playtech, NextGen and Microgaming.