In this article you can find a complete overview of the gambling industry in Latvia. We will delve into the history of gambling, and review the best online casino sites available to Latvian players, as well as analyze the legal status of various gambling games and tell you about our methodology for choosing a good casino. Learn in detail what are the bonuses in online casinos and consider the list of the most popular payment systems. We will separately highlight the situation with sports betting, state lotteries and land-based casinos.
Best Online Casinos For Latvian People
Given that the operation of online casinos is legal and licensable in Latvia, the country hosts a myriad of local and foreign casinos. They’re in high demand from players, consequently boasting a solid reputation.
However, it’s worth knowing the key criteria you need to consider before signing up at an online casino. We’ll talk about those a bit later. But for now, let’s get you familiar with the list of Latvia’s finest online casinos:
The gambling market started to shape up in 1991, right after the country gained independence from the USSR. In the early days, land-based casinos and slot halls sprang up spontaneously since there was no specific legislation in place yet. One of the earliest casinos was a Swedish enterprise called “Riga”, set up in the heart of the country.
The first laws regulating the market, the “Lotteries and Gambling” and “Duty and Tax on Lotteries and Gambling” laws, were passed in 1994. They established the legality of various types of gambling and set tax rates and duty amounts. The only unclear part in the 1994 laws was who exactly was responsible for licensing. This question was answered in 1998 with the establishment of a specific body – the Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection (IAUI), which took over the licensing and control of land-based game operators.
As the 20th century was winding down, with the advent of information technology and the popularity of personal computers, the first online casinos started to crop up. This area remained largely unregulated for a long time, as the law didn’t have definitions for “online casino” or “bookmaker’s office”. This led to virtually all sites being registered in offshore jurisdictions and not paying taxes in Latvia. This situation lasted until 2014, at which point there was a sweeping blockade of all foreign online casinos and betting offices providing services to Latvian players. The Latvian regulator IAUI required foreign online casinos to obtain a local license. Most operators didn’t like this, resulting in them leaving the market. However, some stayed in the game by securing a local license.
Legality and regulation of gambling
Currently, almost all types of gambling are legal in Latvia. These include both land-based casinos and bookmakers, as well as their online variations. Also in a fully legal way function various lotteries, bingo and card games, such as online and offline poker.
The country has its own active gambling commission – IAUI, which is responsible for regulating the actions of both land-based and online companies, as well as issuing licenses. This is a positive moment, as it allows to replenish the budget of the country, as well as to take care of the safety of players.
Choosing the best online casinos in Latvia
Just as promised, in this part of the article, we’ll dive into the key criteria for sizing up online casinos. First off, always do your homework and check out the casino’s license, as well as player reviews. Then, it’s time to dig into the casino’s bonus policies and take a gander at the convenient payment systems. The customer support’s availability and how well the online casino is optimized for mobile devices also weigh in big time.
Legality and Safety
Given that online casino activity is licensed in Latvia, many punters prefer to roll the dice on sites that hold a local license. However, this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the global market. Players also have access to some of the big-shot international casinos operating under licenses like Curacao or MGA. Just remember that some of them might be off-limits from Latvia. Some casinos outright don’t accept Latvian players due to the lack of a local license, and others are blocked by the Latvian government. You can skirt around the block using a VPN, but it’s best to touch base with customer support first to see if playing from Latvia is kosher.
Checking out user reviews is an easy way to see how a casino treats its players. You can do this either through reviews on specialized sites or directly on gaming forums. Both local resources, such as onlinecasinoreports.lv, and international English-language platforms like askgamblers.com/online-casinos/countries/lv, will do the trick.
Bonuses & Promotions
For players from Latvia, there are no restrictions on bonus policies. As a result, you can enjoy all the perks of welcome bonuses and regular programs. We’ll go into the nitty-gritty of the bonuses offered by various online casinos in the relevant section.
A key aspect is the variety of payment systems in online casinos. We pay a good deal of attention to this in our reviews, as having convenient deposit methods significantly smooths out the gaming process. A top-notch online casino will always offer not only bank deposit methods but also various e-wallets, prepaid card services, and more.
Thanks to customer support, you can get the info you need, lickety-split. It’s also super important for the support team to be available round-the-clock and to speak not only English but also Latvian. Without this, it’s tough to maintain high-level communication and solve potential problems.
It’s no secret that many punters prefer to play from their smartphones. Given the current level of mobile tech development, it’s a pretty slick and simple solution. As a result, the best online casinos in Latvia will be perfectly optimized for mobile phones of various operating systems. And not just for the gameplay, but also in terms of mobile interface and convenience when making deposits/withdrawals.
Bonuses and promotions for Latvian players
Alright, let’s dive deep into the existing types of bonuses. First off, what you’ll see right after you sign up is a welcome bonus. Once you’ve burnt through that, you’re eligible for a regular bonus program, offering various ways to get a bit of a kickback. Another hot topic is the myriad of races and tournaments thrown by the casino and its providers.
Once you’ve set up an account, you get a chance to plump up your deposit before you even start playing. This type of bonus typically comes as a top-up to your deposit amount and a handful of free spins. The cherry on top is that the best online casinos spread it across your first few deposits. For instance, at MelBet Casino, you can snag five whole bonuses on your first five deposits.
Regular Player Bonuses
After the welcome bonus has run its course, you get access to the regular bonus program. Usually, it includes weekly reloads, special cashbacks, and other promos that let you grab additional rewards.
Races and Tournaments
Another exciting bonus activity comes in the form of races and tournaments. Here, you can score extra rewards for playing the offered slots. It’s straightforward – you sign up and then carry out the required action in games from the list. The more you play, the higher you climb in the tournament table and, consequently, the greater your reward.
Sports betting in Latvia
Sports betting is another popular and accessible form of gambling in Latvia. The operation of brick-and-mortar betting shops has been legal since 1994. Online activity only got regulated in 2014, in conjunction with online casinos. There are many both local and foreign bookies operating in the country. Most bookmakers work under a Latvian license issued by the IAUI, but some prefer to keep an offshore license. Among the most popular bookies are OlyBet, OptiBet, Parimatch, and MelBet.
Let’s take a moment to talk about sports directly. Like in most other countries, it’s pretty popular among the population. The popularity of certain sports in Latvia has historically developed. Therefore, we couldn’t ignore this aspect and compiled a ranking of the most popular sports.
Hockey – No kidding, we can call this a “national sport”. Its popularity started growing in the early twentieth century, and by the ’60s, the country saw its first rink with artificial ice, which sparked the construction of full-fledged ice arenas. The Latvian team is generally considered a solid crew, with most of its players in prestigious clubs and leagues worldwide.
Football – Another team sport that managed to win over the hearts of Latvians. Serious youth and professional leagues have been developing in Latvia for quite some time, fueled by people’s interest in football and the overall vibe.
Basketball – As a country that made it onto the list of founding nations of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), Latvia maintains a high level of this sport’s development. A case in point is that Riga, the only European capital with several of its clubs (ASK Riga and TTT Riga), boasts the status of European champions.
Track and Field – This is a collective name for many sports where athletes compete in agility and speed. In Latvia, long-distance running and javelin throwing are particularly popular. These disciplines are where athletes from Latvia have scored impressive successes.
Winter Sports – Given the fairly chilly climate and abundant snowy winters, some winter sports are incredibly popular among the population. Many locals regularly ski both off-piste and at special ski resorts. It’s also worth mentioning sports like bobsleigh and skeleton, in which the Latvian team regularly secures impressive victories.
Convenient payment systems
Given that most online casinos in Latvia operate under an offshore license, non-bank deposit methods are highly popular. These include various e-wallets, prepaid card services, and recently, cryptocurrencies. So, we’d like to delve into the most commonly used payment systems in Latvia.
This deposit method is traditionally the most convenient and popular option. It’s used by those players who prefer playing in local online casinos. The reason for its popularity is simple – you can deposit/withdraw funds in two clicks by entering the necessary bank details. The transaction speed is quite high, so the only issue is that not all users like to disclose their data. The largest Latvian banks, for example, SEB and Citadele, do not charge commissions for such operations, which is another positive point.
This is a handy alternative to using a bank card/account, allowing you to pay both online and for offline purchases. It’s unique in that it’s supported by over 6,000 banks worldwide, so you don’t need to enter your bank details or swipe your card each time you want to make a purchase or transfer.
This is the big cheese when it comes to services offering prepaid card purchases. These cards are virtually identical to your standard bank card, the only catch is that the balance is capped. It’s handy and safe because you won’t splurge more than your initial limit. Plus, you don’t have to fiddle with your bank details when shopping online or topping up your online casino account.
This method allows you to both budget your dough and keep your bank details on the down-low. Signing up for e-wallets like Skrill, Neteller, Webmoney, and PayPal is a piece of cake and won’t chew up much of your time. After that, you can easily top them up using your card/bank account or any other method – they even take hard cash! Instant transfers and low fees are also pretty sweet perks.
This is an interesting alternative to the standard “fiat” deposit methods. The perks of using crypto are, without a doubt, speed and accessibility, and low transaction fees that don’t depend on the amount transferred. All this makes cryptocurrency one of the most promising ways to deposit/withdraw funds in Latvian online casinos.
NOTIFY According to recent statements by the Latvian government and the Central Bank, cryptocurrency is legal in Latvia. Like in most countries, it’s not considered an official payment method or currency in the usual sense of the word since there’s no centralized body issuing it.
There’s no ban on buying and selling cryptocurrency, and you’re free to use it as a means of exchange. But remember, income from cryptocurrency operations is subject to income tax.
Popular gambling providers in Latvia
In this part, we’re gonna cover the main providers whose games are popular in Latvia. Speaking of popularity in general, Latvian players have a soft spot for developers who roll out online adaptations of their land-based machines. These providers traditionally occupy the top spots in various gaming charts.
This is a subsidiary of the well-known Austrian conglomerate Novomatic, responsible for cooking up online slots with a unique flavor. Its popularity is largely due to the successful series like Diamond Link and Win Ways, which come with out-of-the-box mechanics. Besides slots, the developer also dishes out various table and card games, including roulette and video poker.
This Bulgarian provider made its mark well before it cooked up its first online slot. Its operations can be split into two main lines: land-based slot machines and online slots. As mentioned at the beginning of this section, many players dig its online adaptations of land-based products. But besides these games, it’s got a bunch of exclusive developments in its arsenal that don’t have land-based counterparts.
Netent is an old-school Swedish game developer that needs no introduction for most punters. They’ve brought a lot of fresh ideas to the table, some of which are now considered the “bread and butter” of the industry. The provider’s massive range of games, each with its unique thematic quirks, has made it a household name worldwide and a hot pick in Latvia.
This is the big kahuna of live dealer game producers, famous for the top-notch quality of its products. They whip up not only classic table and card games like roulette and blackjack, but also offbeat variations with cool game mechanics. On top of this, their gaming portfolio is jam-packed with a slew of special “game shows”, like “Mega Ball”.
This is a bit of a maverick developer that mainly pumps out high-volatility slots bursting with innovative ideas. The defining feature of their games is the random jackpots that can be activated any second, promising a hefty payday.
Land-based casinos in Latvia
Currently, Latvia has about 5 casinos of different sizes. There are also legal slot machine halls, most of which are on the smaller side. Operating a brick-and-mortar casino requires a specific license issued by the Latvian Lottery and Gambling Supervisory Inspection. There are 6 main types of gambling, each taxed at a different rate.
€ 28 080 per year
€ 28 080 per year
€ 5172 per year
15% from income
Raffles and betting
15% from income
10% from income
Most of the land-based casinos are in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.
Olympic Voodoo – This is one of Latvia’s largest casinos, located in Riga. It’s the flagship venue of the Latvian Olympic Casinos Latvia chain.
Like all Latvian casinos, entry is only allowed to those aged 21 and over (18 for tourists). The casino is open round-the-clock, with a laid-back dress code – think smart-casual. No cover charge. The gaming arsenal may seem a bit thin on the ground compared to global standards, but it’s pretty sizeable for Latvia. They’ve got about 100 slot machines (slots and video poker) and 16 tables for various table and card games (roulette, poker, blackjack, baccarat, and so on). The casino also has a poker room for cash games and regular tournaments, as well as a sports bar.
Royal Casino Spa & Resort Hotel – This plush casino is part of a 5-star hotel. Also located in Riga, it really is a place that has room to swing a cat.
Despite its grand size, the casino’s gaming arsenal is a bit smaller than the previous one. Here, you’ll find around 40 slot machines (slots and video poker) and about 10 gaming tables (roulette, poker, blackjack, craps). There’s also a spacious poker room that often hosts big tournaments. One of them even had over 120 players.
Lotteries and other gambling entertainment in Latvia
Lotteries are one of the most popular and accessible forms of gambling in Latvia. A large portion of the population regularly participates in them. A share of the proceeds is used to support social projects in areas such as education, healthcare, sports, and many others. The lotteries hosted by the organization Latvijas Loto are the most popular. Let’s talk about a few of them.
Latloto 5/35 – This is the top dog of Latvian lotteries. To join the fun, you need to buy a ticket costing €0.75, after which you choose 5 numbers from a range of 1 to 35. For a little extra dough, you can also participate in the DŽOKERS and DŽOKERS7 draws. In the end, your ticket will consist of 7 numbers: 5 you’ve picked + 2 bonus numbers. There’s no minimum jackpot in this lottery, the final sum depends on the number of tickets bought. The biggest jackpots have come from:
May 2014 — €175,942
January 2010 — €157,202
The amounts may not seem huge, but the ticket costs less than a euro, and your chances of hitting the jackpot are pretty good. The draws take place every Wednesday and Saturday at 6 PM local time. There are 4 prize categories in total.
Number of matches
5 + bonus ball
1 to 3 426 300
1 to 360 720
1 to 2164
1 to 75
SuperBingo 20 – This lottery is a variant of the well-known game of Bingo. To participate, you need to pick up to 20 numbers on one ticket. A basic ticket costs €1.5. For an additional fee, you can also participate in the DŽOKERS and DŽOKERS7 draws. Tickets can be purchased at land-based points or on the lottery’s official website. Also, when playing SuperBingo with five game options on one receipt, and ticking participation in the additional game Džokers 7, you automatically enter the draw to win one of two cars: an Audi Q3 or Audi Q5.
The draw takes place every Saturday at 2:20 PM, after which it’s published on the official website. The draw video is available the next day on TV 3 channel at 10 AM. Before the draw begins, the order number of the ball to which the game will be played is announced. The draw itself involves balls being drawn from a drum in turns. The sooner you fill certain sectors, the higher your reward. We’ll break down the different winning options in detail.
The first to have 6 numbers guessed before the 45th ball in the Center wins
The first to have 14 numbers in the Frame guessed before the 45th ball wins
All those who have 6 numbers guessed before the 45th ball, which are in the Center, win
All those with 14 numbers guessed before the 45th ball in the Frame win
The first person to guess all 20 numbers wins
The first person to have all 20 numbers matched up to a certain ball wins. Winners of Super Bingo also receive Bingo winnings
It’s worth noting that poker is also legal and popular in Latvia. There are plenty of cash games and various tournaments in land-based casinos. Online poker is also fully legal, and you can play it in local poker rooms like OptiBet, OlyBet, BetSafe, which operate under a Latvian license, as well as offshore establishments like PokerStars, GGpokerok, 888poker. Just bear in mind, you might run into some hiccups accessing the offshore rooms.
Reliability and safety of online casinos in Latvia
All in all, Latvia can brag about having one of the highest levels of reliability when it comes to gambling safety. The country has its own gaming commission, the IAUI, which handles the licensing of organizations and oversees their operations. As a result, gambling in a casino with this license is like a seal of fairness and security, because if the casino tries to pull a fast one, you can go straight to the commission.
Another option, however, is to play in offshore establishments operating under international licenses. Players may fear that cheating by the casino may go unpunished. But we hasten to assure you – there is no need to fear, as a licensed casino will not risk its international license. Nevertheless, if this happened, you can write a complaint to the relevant gaming commission, describing the situation. If the casino has indeed violated the rules of the license and cheated you, the commission will demand compensation for the losses.
To summarize, I would like to note that the gambling industry in Latvia is at its dawn. All types of gambling are represented in the country in both land-based and online formats. And they are not just “in the shadows”, and are subject to full regulation. This is an excellent example of successful development of the industry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are online casinos legal in Latvia?
Yes, online casinos are fully legal in Latvia. They are regulated by the local IAUI commission, which grants them licenses.
Are there any land-based casinos in Latvia?
There are about 5 land-based casinos in Latvia. Most of them are located in the capital Riga.
Is sports betting legal in Latvia?
Betting on sports is legal both in the format of land-based betting shops and sports bars, and online. There are a large number of online betting shops in the country, regulated by the local commission.
Can I play poker in Latvia?
Yes, both offline, playing in land-based casinos and poker clubs, and online. Latvia has its own online poker rooms as well as well-known foreign poker rooms.
Does Latvia have a license for online casinos/bookmakers?
In Latvia there is a gambling commission – Lotteries and Gambling Supervision Inspection (IAUI). It is responsible for issuing licenses and regulating gambling.