Many countries have legalized land-based gambling long time ago. However, the case as for online games of chance is distinct. Not every market that has legalized traditional gambling has legalized internet gambling as well. In reality, it wasn’t until recently that regulated markets began to think about legalizing iGaming due to consumer demand and interest from both onshore and offshore operators.
Lithuania is the ideal illustration of a nation that only recently legalized iGaming. While there was some regulation of gaming that takes place within physical premises, the country had to spend years getting ready to introduce iGaming. However, despite some updates and modifications to the legislative law lasting now, it managed to do it in 2016.
Lithuanian gambling history
In 2010, when the government indicated that it should be based on the Estonian model, Lithuania began to examine the regulation of Internet gaming. At the same time that preparations were being made, the Vilnius Regional Court ruled that the ISA should direct ISPs to restrict access to unauthorized offshore sites in Lithuania. The Vilnius ruling was maintained despite ISPs’ challenges that they were ineffectual.
The Gambling Act was then amended in 2013. The formal gaming regulation was supposed to go into effect in 2014, but we now know that it actually happened in 2016. At that time, the government proposed regulations that would set limits on things like daily player time and betting limits and prevention obligations. This is when the European Commission sent a formal letter of notice in 2013 addressing the gaming laws.
The Gambling Bill, which would have supervised commercial iGaming, was amended, and the country informed the EuroCommission of these amendments in 2014. Under the bill, any offshore operator seeking to apply for a license was required to have a physical presence onshore and to provide a min. share capital of LTL 4 million.
President Grybauskait amended the law in 2015 to state that only operators-licensees may operate interactive gambling. This came about as a result of the European Commission’s detailed criticism of Lithuania’s proposed legislation requiring operators to have a land-based gaming license and a PLC, or at least a branch under Lithuanian law.
The Gambling Supervision Service was also given the authority to file lawsuits and stop the importation of unlawful gaming into the country, and as of January 1st, 2016, Lithuania regulated iGaming for the first time in its history. In Lithuania, the first casino licenses were issued in this year, which also marked the appearance of the first blacklist. This year, the GCA also struck a deal with ESSA, the organization that upholds sports betting integrity, to exchange data and fight doping in athletics.
Following the lead of other regulated markets, the Ministry of Finance proposed an amendment to the Gambling Law in 2018 with the goal of placing strict restrictions on gambling advertising. The new iGaming advertising restrictions went into effect in 2019.
Types of Licenses
Overall, there are 2 licenses operators can obtain:
- For terrestrial gambling
- For online gambling
Nevertheless, different sub-licenses may be granted based on the services that operators wish to offer to Lithuanian players.
Applying for a casino license in Lithuania
Only those operators that have at least one casino, five horseracing totalizator offices, ten machine halls, twenty betting offices, or twenty totalizator offices located in Lithuania are eligible to apply for authorization to conduct business there. Or, if a foreign company’s branch in Lithuania complies with all legal criteria, it may run an internet gaming operation there. A firm must have at least €1,160,000 in approved capital to arrange any sort of gaming.
The entity interested in applying for a license is required to submit a request to the Control Authority with the following information: its code, name, head office address, address and phone of the gambling location, fax numbers, types of gaming to be organized, issue date and number of the gambling license, position and full name of the authorized person who filled out and signed the application, and the date of application. The application also calls for additional information regarding the games, the staff, etc.