A major change has just been made to Estonian gambling laws that makes it legal for players to gamble online. The impetus for the change is financial – Estonia is going to be entering the euro zone next year, and sees the taxation of online gambling operators as an outstanding potential for extra income. Estonia is currently experiencing one of the worst recessions in the EU, and the liberalization of gambling is expected to help the nation’s financial situation considerably.
The change is being made in two steps. First, effective immediately, players can begin using locally-hosted and licensed online gambling sites in Estonia. The next stage, which sees the opening of Estonia’s internet gambling industry to foreign operators, will not come into effect until 2011. This will give the regulatory bodies time to sort out licensing with foreign operators that are willing and able to comply with Estonia’s regulatory requirements. These requirements are still being drafted, but the country has made it clear that they will be precise, with rules designed to prevent corruption and money laundering.
Rumors of investments are already beginning to float around. Gambling operators may view Estonia as a gateway for the entire Baltic market. Estonia has recently seen a huge increase in advertising campaigns coming from foreign operators; now it seems these will really begin to pay off.
The Olympic Group is among the first to receive a local license. The group will be offering a Playtech-powered casino to Estonian players. Playtech Executive Manager Mor Weizer said, “We are truly glad of this opportunity to start our partnership with Olympic as the leading casino entertainment provider in Central and Eastern Europe.”
The decision to open up Estonia’s internet gambling industry comes in on the heels of the very successful Baltic Poker Festival.