The Estonian Riigikogu has approved stronger regulatory measures for the country's gambling industry, replacing laws that were described as unfit for purpose. The new law now awaits only the presidents imprimatur before implementation commences.
Key among the changes is the regulation for the first time of Internet gambling
, together with strict new requirements for private operators of land-based casinos and off-track betting facilities. Lottery games will remain a state monopoly.
Minimum capital requirements for new operators have been set at a minimum Euro 1 million, a rise on the existing Eruo 128 000 of almost 800 percent. The minimum number of gaming machines in any licensed venue has been increased from 8 to 20, from January 1, and this will be hiked to 40 by July 1, 2010 - measures designed to discourage small and hard to monitor operators, which could result in driving many venues out of business.
Legislators debating the changes pointed to estimated problem gambling rates in Estonia of over 6 percent of the adult population.
News is awaited on the Czech parliament's decision on legalising and regulating online gambling. Recently the Czech lottery operator Sazka, hopeful that upcoming legislation will legalise online gambling in the country, announced plans to launch a new play-for-fun online casino branded E-Sazka.cz.