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Latvian Casino and Card Room Gaming

Casinos began operating in Latvia in 1991 after the nation gained its independence from the former Soviet Union. There are traditional casinos as well as slot halls and machines outside casinos.

Latvia's Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection department grants licenses for both casinos and slot halls. Licenses are only given to companies that are registered with the Register of Enterprises of the Republic of Latvia and whose capital contains no more than 49% of foreign investment, not including investment from European Union member states.

Casinos must have a designated gaming area, and the equipment other than slot machines must be owned by the operator.

A license is valid for 10 years and must be re-registered annually for a fee. Operators also pay a tax based on the number of tables and machines on the property.

A slot hall must contain a minimum of 20 machines. Like casinos, the slot halls must have a designated gaming area. Only the machines owned or leased by the license holder may be placed in the gaming area.

Currently, operators pay a special licensing fee of 300,000 lats, with a 25,000 lat fee for re-registration of the license and a fee of 20,000 lats to operate a casino. Casinos also pay a tax of 2,208 lats per slot matchine, 12,144 lats per roulette table, and 12,144 lats per cards and dice game. Operators must also pay a 10% fee on all income derived from games of chance that are organized with the help of telecommunications. Of those revenues 75% are paid to the state, with 25% paid to the local municipality where the gambling occurs.

In February 2004, the Ministry of Finance amended its existing Anti-Money Laundering Law to target a number of high-risk trades, including Lativa's gambling industry. The law makes it illegal for any financial or multi-currency institution to ignore possible money laundering, and requires casinos and lotteries to investigate and report suspicious activity. Winnings over 5,000 lats must be reported to the government, and players are required to register traceable identification information upon admission to the casinos.

The Latvian casino industry experienced explosive growth in the 1990s and early 2000s. In the late 2000s, the Latvian market shrank due to economic events. The casino industry has since rebounded, but growth is a lot slower than it was during its boom period.

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