Latvian Saeima refuses to give municipalities right to fully restrict gambling

Latvian parliament’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee decided to not support the proposal for giving municipalities the right to fully restrict gambling activities within their respective territories.
The proposal was submitted by Seaima deputy Viktors Valainis prior to the third reading of the Law on Local Governments. He proposed «issuing commercial permits and licenses, as well as making decisions on permission or prohibition to organise gambling within administrative territories of municipalities».
President of Latvian Game Business Association Arnis Vērzemnieks said during the meeting that this proposal would change the way the gambling industry operates. ‘If we include this proposal, we will have to completely change the regulations that govern this industry,’ he said.
Senior advisor to Latvian Association of Local Governments (LPS) Māris Pūķis agreed with Juris Pūce, who said Valainis’ proposal fits the description of a special law.
LPS advisor for legal affairs Kristīne Kinča mentioned that municipalities are in favour of autonomy when it comes to permitting or restricting gambling within their territories. However, she believes this should be governed by the Law on Gambling and Lotteries.

«I would invite this committee to join as a partner from the side of municipalities,» she said, suggesting that the Saeima should not support this proposal.

Valainis explained his motivation for the proposal with the ‘personal interpretation of a law already passed by Saeima’ by Minister of Environment Protection and Regional Development Artūrs Toms Plešs. «This is why this proposal came to be. This is not about issue of permits or licenses. What I’m proposing is letting municipalities permit or prohibit gambling within their territories. This is a very clear proposal,» said Valainis.
The Saeima committee did not support this proposal.