Gambling in Eastern Europe: An Update

By Debra SaundersGoogle


Even during difficult economic times, people still budget money for entertainment purposes, including gambling.  This is a seen across the globe and many countries are seeing the value in legalizing, regulating and taxing gambling operations (both online and offline) in order to benefit their economies.  There is a growing trend across Europe of heaver taxation on gambling operators and also legalizing and regulating gambling.  This in turn helps the country’s economy and protects consumers. As of late, we are seeing this trend in Eastern Europe.


In Hungary, the government (suffering from economic hardship) is looking to pass laws that will require gambling operations (online and offline) to pay higher federal taxes starting in 2012.  It is always more difficult for a country to tax online gambling operations so it will be interesting to see how the Hungarian government goes about doing so.  Their economic minister Gyargy Matoicsy mentioned that it would be difficult to levy such a tax.


In the Ukraine, one of the largest countries in Eastern Europe is also leaning towards an increasingly free and open market for the gambling industry.  Since 2009, they had banned all forms of gambling but now, parliament members are trying to push laws, which will lift this ban and legalize gambling.  At this point, the efforts are to legalize offline gambling and no efforts are being made to legalize online gambling.  The government will not have to spend money as private operators will fund these establishments but the government will benefit by taxation and most likely an increase in tourism revenues.   They will also earn money should they choose to invest in these private organizations (this is seen in other parts of Europe).  The government has seen that banning gambling has not decreased rates of problem gambling but it has just pushed gambling underground, which causes revenue loss and other problems.


In Latvia, a statement recently issued by the Latvian Gaming Business Association disclosed that the Latvian online gambling market in 2010 was worth €17.4 million.   At this point, the Latvian Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection and the Latvian Ministry of Finance are now allegedly looking to introduce legislation, which will legalize and regulate online gambling (starting from 2012) in order to capitalize on this growing market.



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