Latvia’s Live Dealer Casinos face New Fees in 2018

Live dealer casinos in Latvia could face hefty fees in 2018.

There are only a select few cities where the world’s live casino studios have historically chosen to set up shop. They are generally regions known for minimal taxation and other benefits to business owners. One of the most famous among them is Riga, the capital of Latvia and largest city of all the Baltic states in Northern Europe.

Riga hosts live dealer studios for two of the largest live casino operators in the world, Evolution Gaming and Playtech. Evolution opened its first live dealer casino in Riga in 2006. Playtech launched its first Latvian studio in 2009. That studio was replaced earlier this year by a new studio in Riga Old Town (pictured below), the largest in the world at a rival-dwarfing 8,500 square feet.

Playtech's new Riga Studio for Live Dealer CasinosThese two operators are now raising concern over potential Latvian taxation of the live gaming market. Parliament issued their approval of incorporating a new licensing fee aimed at live casinos. The specific details of the proposed fees are not yet known, but it could go into effect as early as January 1, 2018.

Latvian Tax on Live Dealer Casinos

According to a report that surfaced on iGamingIntelligence on Friday, “The government of Latvia plans to impose new fees on live dealer casino games broadcast from the country”.

If that’s the case, it could have a significant impact on the profit margins of Evolution Gaming and Playtech. The studios run by these two companies make up a substantial margin of the live dealer gaming market throughout much of Europe.

The report indicates Latvia’s intent to implement the new live casino fee in 2018. However, as Evolution Gaming pointed out in a company notice, the tax reform measure is not set in stone just yet.

Parliament May Reconsider

For the moment, the imposed fee may still be up for debate. Evolution Gaming is of the belief that it could be thrown out before the year is over. Whether that’s wishful thinking or not, they do have a solid reason for their stance.

The tax hike was proposed to the Parliament without the consent of Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers. In fact, the Cabinet, as well as industry stakeholders, all advised against the concept of laying new fees upon their live studio operators.

An Information Publication provided by Evolution to their stakeholders reads:

The Latvian parliament has decided to implement a fee, starting next year, for Live Casino tables that are being provided from the country. As Evolution runs a studio in Riga, the company may be comprised by this fee. The decision has been made by the Latvian parliament against the recommendation of the government and several other stakeholders, and there is still a possibility that it will be changed.”

The notice went on to explain that licensing fees are nothing new to Evolution Gaming. The company “regularly manages new regulatory propositions and changes”, with existing licensing fees being paid in various markets already.

Evolution assured its investors that, in the greater scheme of things, “the planned fee is not assessed to substantially impact the company’s position”, should Latvia go ahead with the imposition come 2018

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