Operators fight Latvian gambling ban in court

Businesses are arguing in court that the right to private property included the right to conduct business

Online gambling has been banned in Latvia since the beginning of April, after clarification was issued on the country’s emergency COVID-19 bill. The order called for a prohibition on gambling and lotteries, and that the Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority “shall suspend all gambling licenses for physical gambling venues, interactive media and/or via electronic communication services". Now, the Constitutional Court of Latvia has initiated two legal cases from operators challenging the previous gambling ban. 

latvia gambling authority sigma news Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Authority banned online gambling.

The operators say that the emergency bill violated the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia which deals with property rights. In article 105 the constitution states that “property may not be used against the public interest. Property rights may be restricted only in accordance with the law". 

“Compulsory expropriation of property for the needs of the public shall be permitted only in exceptional cases on the basis of a separate law against fair compensation.” 

The operator Enlabs said the right to private property included the right to conduct business. They added that the restriction of its ability to conduct business was “disproportionate to its legitimate aim to deter society from wasting expenditures".

Novomatic-owned gaming hall and online gaming operator Alfor Group, which operates Admirāļu Klubs, initiated a second challenge. Alfor said that the bill violated the principle of equality since the constitution states that “all people in Latvia are equal before the law and the court." 

The Saeima of the Republic of Latvia is invited to reply to these two cases by mid-July.

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