Latvian court has reversed a ban on gambling venues in Riga

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Latvian court has reversed a ban on gambling venues in Riga

The Constitutional Court has ruled against the Riga Council’s decision to close 139 gambling venues in the Latvian capital.

Responding to an appeal from affected operators, the court determined that the council’s action violated constitutional law.

The Riga city council had ordered the closure of these venues under a decree aimed at restricting gambling to four- and five-star hotels by 2025, citing concerns for the safety and well-being of approximately 80,000 vulnerable residents affected by problem gambling. However, operators including Admiral KlubsAlfors, Joker Ltd, and Olympic Casino Latvia filed an appeal challenging the decision.

While acknowledging municipalities’ authority to regulate gambling, the court found that the Riga City Council had overlooked certain requirements and technical aspects, failing to adequately justify the exclusion of gambling from functional zoning outlined in its city plan.

The court emphasized that commercial activities, including gambling, are permitted within the affected zones and concluded that the council’s actions breached constitutional law protecting the contractual rights of operators holding permits granted by the council.

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