How it all started
After Lithuania regained its independence, slot machines started appearing everywhere: in shops, bars, buses, train stations, and underground casinos. Since at that time there were no rules governing gambling activities, these slot machines were equated with computer games, which allowed anyone, even minors, to get involved in them.
It is known that one of the most effective ways to combat shadow business is its legalization and careful control. The very first gambling law of the Republic of Lithuania was adopted in 2001.after the law came into force, the supervision of the gambling sector was assigned to the newly created State gambling Commission, which in 2012 was reorganized into the gambling supervision body under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania, which controls the modern gambling market.
With the entry into force of the law, the development of the gambling segment in Lithuania began. Currently, there are 18 casinos, 205 slot machine halls and 163 betting points in the country.
What has changed since then? Gambling has moved to the Internet
Despite the fact that online gambling has been around the world for a long time, significant changes in Lithuania caused by global technological and innovative developments in the gambling market began in 2016 with the modernization of the legal framework and the legalization of the interactive segment.
The regulation of online gambling has created conditions for residents of Lithuania to play on legal websites and, in case of disputes with the gambling operator, to assert their rights with the support of the Supervisory authority. Of course, this rule does not apply to illegal sites. In this case, the player is responsible for their own problems. The regulatory body blocks such resources.
A new problem is the development of gambling addiction
Due to the fact that the number of gambling products on the market is growing rapidly, the problem of ludomania in society is becoming more and more noticeable. According to experts, the fact is that those who faced gambling addiction at the time did not have enough information about the risks that gambling carries. In addition, a few years ago there were no qualified specialists who could help such people. Now everything has changed. The regulatory body is actively looking for effective ways to help those who have problems with gambling. In 2005, a voluntary gambling restriction agreement (GPA) was signed with gambling operators, on the basis of which players can submit a request for self-exclusion from gambling. The operator is obliged to block such a player. Later, a General system of self-exclusion was created, which is available to all gambling companies. If a player is entered in the register, the operator has no right to allow him to play.
Children are protected from gambling
As already mentioned, before the introduction of the gambling regulation law in 2001, gambling was available to everyone, including children. Now, according to the current legislation, gambling is not available for people under 18 years of age. Gambling operators are required to verify the identity of each person entering the gambling hall and, if they find a minor or a member of the self-excluded register, do not allow them to enter the institution. The security service does the same if the player refuses to provide identity documents.
Lithuanian gambling operators are waiting for new restrictions on advertising
Advertising is the main tool for promoting products and services on the market, including for gambling operators. Currently, the new restrictions have not yet entered into force, but from November 1, 2019, catchy catchphrases and bright advertising images will disappear. Only the names, brands, and activities of gambling companies are allowed to be published. Operators are prohibited from posting any additional written, visual or audio information. This amendment will also protect children from the potential harm of gambling, since it is forbidden to publish any information related to gambling on sites intended for minors.
New control over slot machines
Today, there are almost 4,500 slot machines in various cities and towns in Lithuania, which are controlled by the Supervisory authority.
Technological innovations and achievements are increasingly spreading to the gambling market. To save time and money for both the state and gambling operators, starting from November 1, 2019, all slot machines will be connected to the information management system, where all data from the slot machine will be collected electronically and in real time. This will help ensure fair and transparent gambling activities and better control, as well as preventing money laundering.
Additional control of cash flow
As the world is gradually switching to electronic payment methods, gambling establishments are experiencing a large cash flow (gambling using Bank cards is prohibited by law). The total gambling turnover in Lithuania in 2018 was 484 million euros. This means that the players brought almost half a billion euros in cash to the playgrounds controlled by the Supervisory authority.
In this regard, the Supervisory authority has strengthened its control over this aspect. Only this year, the Supervisory Authority imposed sanctions against two major gambling companies for improper implementation of anti-money laundering measures.
Progress in the fight against match fixing
Match-fixing in Lithuania and the world as a whole has long been a hidden and ignored problem. In search of solutions, European States signed a Convention against manipulating the results of sports events in 2014. This Convention contains definitions that combine understanding and evaluation of the phenomenon of match-fixing. The focus is on international cooperation measures, risk assessment and management, information exchange, personal data protection, interagency cooperation, liability and sanctions.
In order to prevent mass manipulation of sports competitions, the Supervisory authority under the Department of physical education and sports, the police Department and the Prosecutor General’s office joined forces and signed a cooperation agreement.
The Latvian lottery and gambling supervision authority is actively involved in detecting and preventing match fixing.
Thus, over the past 18 years, the Lithuanian gambling market has undergone significant changes. The completely unregulated and uncontrolled gambling market has become much more transparent, stable and attractive for both players and investors. During the year, the market became more liberal and tough. The current legal framework for the Lithuanian gambling market keeps pace with technological progress in this area and expands opportunities for the gambling segment. The regulatory framework warns customers that gambling is not only a leisure activity, but can also have undesirable consequences. Gambling has gone through a difficult phase of youth and is now approaching legal maturity-obviously, not all the work has been done and much remains to be done in the Lithuanian gambling industry.