Latvian Parliament Vote Down ‘Lasting Disease’ Gambling Law Amendments

The Latvian parliament has voted down amendments to the Gambling and Lotteries Law that would have limited gambling in the country.

Developed by members of the New Conservative Party and KPV LV, Saeima deputy Juris Jurašs urged other members of the parliament to support this legislative proposal, noting that approximately 80,000 citizens in Latvia suffer from gambling addiction, with 15,000 classified as ‘severe’ problem gamblers.

The proposed reforms, he said, would be a “small step toward forming a healthier society.”

“Gambling halls in Latvia are a lasting disease that makes certain people rich, it needs to be treated,” he said.

‘Critical’ essence of Latvia’s gambling situation

The ‘critical’ essence of Latvia’s gambling situation was highlighted by Juras. Following the rejection of the legislative proposal by the parliament, Saeima deputy Krijnis Feldmans of the New Conservative Party wrote on Twitter that the Attstbai/Par! party is a plague for Latvian politics, citing the party’s vote against gambling restrictions.

During the vote, 35 Saeima deputies voted in favour of sending the proposal to the Budget and Finance Committee, while 15 voted against it and 27 abstained. As a result, the statutory proposal was refused.

SKDS study

According to a 2016 study conducted by SKDS, 26 percent of those who gambled in the previous 12 months admitted to having situations where gambling consumed so much of their lives that the outside world ceased to exist for them for a period of time.

Casinos will only be allowed in four or five-star hotels in Latvia, according to the legislative proposal.

Deputies have suggested making it illegal for alimony avoiders to gamble. The Maintenance Guarantee Fund Law already imposes a number of requirements on debtors in order to encourage them to fulfil their obligations, such as paying alimony and providing financial support to their children.