Lithuania has made good on its threats to blacklist online gambling operators who lack local licenses.
As of Jan. 1, Lithuania put online gambling companies on notice that they needed to obtain a local license if they wished to continue serving Lithuanian punters. This week, Lithuania’s Gaming Control Authority (GCA) added Betway, Unibet and William Hill to the country’s official list of operators illegally serving the market.
After receiving the blessing of local courts, the GCA issued binding orders to internet service providers to block the three operators’ sites, as well as a host of domains linked with Nordic operator Betsson's Triiobet brand. GCA director Virginijus Dauksis said the blacklist would undoubtedly add more names in the not too distant future.
Lithuania’s new gambling rules require international online operators to establish a local presence, a stipulation that has earned criticism from the European Commission when applied in other EU countries.
To date, only three operators – Sport Top, TonyBet and Orakulas – have applied for and been issued Lithuanian online gambling licenses. The GCA posted a notice to its website warning local gamblers that patronizing unauthorized sites meant they “risk losing their contributions” and that the GCA wouldn’t come to their aid should a dodgy site take their money and run.
POLAND POURS COLD WATER ON ONLINE POKER TALK
Meanwhile, just across Lithuania’s southern border in Poland, government authorities have refuted local media reports claiming the country was preparing to overhaul its gambling legislation.
Last week brought reports that the government elected last year would look to further monetize the country’s gambling industry by adding online poker to its list of approved activities, with revenue taxed between 20% and 30%, and the relaxation of some of the law’s restrictions on advertising.
But on Monday, the Ministry of Finance poured cold water on these claims, saying it was not considering any revisions to the Gambling Act. However, the spokesman warned that the government was considering ways to increase its gambling tax revenue.
Speculation has it that this plan could include methods to compel the estimated 150+ unauthorized online operators currently serving the Polish market to contribute their fair share to tax coffers or find their IPs and banking transactions blocked. Controversially, Poland announced plans in 2014 to prosecute gamblers who patronize unauthorized sites in a bid to drive more traffic to authorized operators.
To date, only five operators – e-toto, Fortuna Entertainment, Milenium, STS and Intralot subsidiary Totolotek – have applied for and received Polish online licenses, in part because of hefty turnover taxes and the (since lifted) requirement to establish a local subsidiary.