After several hours of debates, the Riga City Council voted on March 27 to close all gambling halls in the city, except for those located in four or five star hotels.
The Riga City Council’s Legal Department, in cooperation with the City Development Department, will now draw up new Riga City Council regulations, which will foresee the gradual revocation of gambling hall licenses in the city.
The head of the Legal Department Janis Liepins explained that this will be a long and complicated process, because a decision to revoke a license must be made for each individual gambling hall. He added that there are approximately 200 such gambling halls in Riga.
Liepins also explained that the operating gambling halls in the city will have five years to close them down, meaning that these gambling halls in Riga will only completely disappear no sooner than 2024.
According to the Law on Gambling, if the operation of gambling on the particular premises creates a substantial impairment to the interests of the State and the residents of the respective administrative area, the city or the local government council is entitled to terminate the permit to establish a casino, a gambling hall, a bingo hall, a betting or a wagering shop and to operate the respective type of gambling on the particular premises, by means of a reasoned decision.
It has also been reported that in the fall of 2017, the Riga City Council made a decision to liquidate 42 gambling halls in the historical center of Riga. Since 2011 the Riga municipality has not issued any licenses for new gambling halls.