Estonia good to go on online gambling

The Baltic nation of Estonia, long respected for its computer technology capabilities, will soon be open for business in an online gambling operational sense as well following final approval of a new regulatory regime due to start licensing suitable operators early in 2010.

Unlike some of its neighbouring nations, Estonia has embraced online gambling in a regulatory framework that welcomes rather than excludes foreign operators, but there are strict conditions attached.

Operators licensed in other European Union member nations will find ready acceptance, provided that they increase their licensing costs by obtaining an Estonian license, too. Alternatively, foreign operators can form partnerships with Estonian licensed national gambling entities.

In framing the legislation, Estonian lawmakers were determined to have a meaningful regulatory system, and licensing requirements therefore include:

* Background and probity checks on the company and its senior management.

* The implementation of precautions against underage and/or problem gambling.

* Servers and other equipment within Estonian national boundaries to enable inspection as required.

* Acceptable financial systems compliant with international requirements to guard against fraud or money laundering.

Estonian officials have warned that unlicensed Internet gambling activity with Estonian nationals will be regarded as illegal, and have hinted that financial measures and ISP blocking will be deployed against illegal operators.

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