Latvia's Saeima approves bill to ban alimony debtors from gambling

Latvia’s legislature, the Saeima, has approved at the first reading a bill to ban alimony debtors from gambling, and scheduled a second reading for 20 January.


The bill, a set of amendments to the Law on the Maintenance Guarantee Fund, would require operators to ensure that those who owe maintenance payments are not permitted to gamble either in person or online.

In order to do so, they must check accounts against the national register of maintenance debtors, with the help of the Lotteries and Gambling Inspectorate, which will create an official data display for licensees. The legislature said that it expects this process to be similar to performing a self-exclusion check.

“The restriction is intended to prevent debtors who do not provide maintenance they owe for a child from using funds unreasonably for entertainment and hobbies,” the Saeima said.

The legislature added that other restrictions for alimony debtors, such as on ownership of firearms and certain vehicles, are already in place.

The bill was submitted by the government and has already received approval from the Commission for Human Rights and Public Affairs with no objections.

If it passes in a second and third reading and is signed into law, the restriction will come into effect on 1 April.

In April, Latvia banned all gambling as the country dealt with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, shutting down land-based venues to limit the spread of the virus, while also suspending all online licences.

On 9 June, the Saeima passed a bill to end the national state of emergency, allowing online gambling to operate again.

In the third quarter of 2020, the Latvian gaming industry brought in €55.2m in revenue, up significantly from Q2 when the industry dealt with the ban, but down 33.2% year-on-year.