Lithuania tightens screws on int’l online gambling operators

lithuania-online-gambling-crackdownLithuania has become the latest European Union jurisdiction to tighten the screws on international online gambling operators.

On Jan. 1, Lithuania began enforcing recent amendments to the country’s gaming laws, which gave government agencies greater powers to take action against gambling operators not explicitly authorized to serve local punters.

The Gaming Control Authority (GCA), a branch of the Ministry of Finance, has been given free reign to legally compel internet service providers to block unauthorized gambling sites, with promises of penalties to be meted out to ISPs who don’t toe the line. Similarly, banks and other payment processing institutions are now legally required to block all transactions to and from unapproved gambling sites.

In keeping with some of its EU neighbors, the GCA has vowed to publish a blacklist of online operators who flout the new restrictions.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė signed the amended gaming laws last summer after pressure from the European Commission, which in 2013 issued ‘official requests for information’ regarding gambling restrictions from a number of EU member states. The new Lithuanian amendments require licensed online operators to establish a physical office in the country and to partner with a local land-based gaming operator, similar to the model adopted in Belgium.

It’s unclear how many operators currently serving the Lithuanian market will heed the GCA’s threat to take “strict legal action” against sites that persist in unauthorized dealings with Lithuanian punters. A GCA spokesperson told that it had so far received only a single application for local licensing, although the GCA only began accepting such applications since the new rules took effect on Jan. 1.