Estonia Online Casino Guide

Gambling Industry Overview in Estonia

The following approaches will be presented

  • Gambling legislation in Estonia
  • Gambling authorities in Estonia
  • Online casinos in Estonia
  • and more

Flag of EstoniaAlthough the population of Estonia is not very large, gambling is one of the favorite pastimes of its citizens. According to a survey, no less than 80% of the country’s adult population have gambled at least once in their life.

In addition, the online casino industry is slowly gaining strength, as it has became legal in the beginning of 2010. After the World Economic Crisis of 2008, the country’s Government has put its efforts into reviving Estonian economy and provided local players with the opportunity to play online at licensed websites.

Overview

Overall, the gambling industry in Estonia is relatively young. Over the time when the country was part of the USSR, all types of gambling operations were prohibited by law. The ban over gambling activities, however, does not mean that illegal casinos did not functioned, but the actual history of gambling in the country started in the period 1994-1995, when the first Lottery Act and the first Gambling Act came into effect.

After Estonia was released from the USSR at the beginning of the 1990s, the country was eager to attract outlandish companies. This is one of the major reasons why it immediately legalized gambling and granted a large number of licenses to different companies.

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The gambling legalization in the country started in 1991 with the state lottery. The latter was officially regulated with the first Estonian Lottery Act in 1994. Then, in 1995, the first Gambling Act came into power and imposed a bit tighter rules in comparison to the ones right after the country became autonomous.

Gambling Legislation in EstoniaThe overall gaming market in Estonia is currently put under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Chamber. Only players over 21 years of age are provided with access to casinos. Lotteries in the country are also allowed for people who are at least 16 years old.

Players may be self-excluded from casinos for a period between six months or three years at their own request.

As mentioned above, at first the regime related to gambling activities was not quite strict and the rules were considered as very relaxed. The Lottery Act from 1994 and the Gambling Act from 1995 were the first attempt of Estonia to impose a more-controlled regime on the industry, which was slowly gaining growth.

According to the Gambling Act of 1995, there were four types of gambling described as follows: games of skill, games of chance, betting and totalisators. The Act’s provisions also made it obligatory for gambling operators to obtain a special license before being allowed to operate gambling activities on the territory of the country.

The Gambling Act of 1995 explained that individual activity licenses were necessary for all types of gaming and gambling activities. They were all issued for a period of a decade. On the other hand, operation permits were granted for a period of half a decade and was intended to indicate the gambling venue location.

The aforementioned acts are considered as two of the most important milestones on the country’s way towards a well-structured gambling legislation and more accurate regulation of gaming activities. No matter that these acts put the beginning of Estonia’s gambling regulation history, they actually did not manage to provide any legal basis when it comes to online gambling regulation and proved to be insufficient thanks to the rapid development of gambling technologies.

The fact that the entire industry was rapidly changing, including the great prosper of online gaming activities, emphasized on the necessity for a new, more accurate Gambling Act to be adopted.

Currently, the gambling industry in the country is governed by the Gambling Act of 2008, which not only imposed more strict rules on regular land-based gaming operations, but also created the possibility for online gambling regulations.

The Gambling Act was officially adopted in 2008 and came into effect several months later – at the beginning of 2009. The Act’s major advantage compared to its predecessors is the fact that legal basis for the regulation of the rapidly growing online gambling industry is provided.

The new Estonian Gambling Act of 2008 practically annulled the previous two acts. Still, a great part of the old provisions remained unchanged, including the four main types of gambling activities described in the Gambling Act of 1995. The requirement for an activity license and operating permit also remained as major conditions for running gambling operations in Estonia.

When it comes to issuing the activity licenses and operating permits for both casinos and lotteries, the Estonian Tax and Custom Board is responsible. In addition, Estonia is currently a member of the European Union. This basically means that its gambling laws should correspond to the Community laws. Still, the country has kept the right of requiring the casino and gambling operators licensed in other countries to meet the same conditions as the unlicensed ones.

Licensing Procedure

All casino and gambling operators that are willing to operate on the territory of Estonia are required to get a gambling license. As mentioned above, this rule applies to all people and companies, no matter if they are located in the European Union, or not.

Both joint-stock entities and private companies are permitted to apply for a license, as long as they meet several requirements. First, any eventual gambling operator on the territory of Estonia must declare a share capital that amounts to at least €1 million and have a permit to operate such activities.

In addition, the applying operator is required to pay a license fee, which is estimated to €47,934 in order to be provided with the opportunity to organize games of chance. The licensing fee for organizing games of skill amounts to €31,956, and the fee for the organisation of a totalisator is €3,196

According to the Estonian gambling legislation, a total of two licenses are required by operators – an activity license and an operating license.

Activity license
This type of license is used in order to certify that the eventual provider of gambling activities in the country is a reliable one and is ready to comply with the requirements of the country’s Gambling Act. In addition, applicants must comply with all additional or specific conditions if any.

Activity licenses are granted for an unspecified term. They can not be transferred to other people or entities.

Operating license
Operating licenses are also known under the term “operating permits”. Such a license should be granted before organizing any kind of specific gambling operations such as totalizators, lotteries, games of chance, and so on.

This type of licenses are valid for a period of two decades.

Online Gambling

Internet Gambling in EstoniaOnline gambling has been officially legalized in the country since 2010 for Estonia-based operators, and since 2011 for foreign ones. Some web-based gambling facilities were still offered in Estonia for the first time in 2004 by the state-run sportsbook.

After legalizing online casinos and gambling operations in 2010 and opening the market for outlandish companies in 2011, there were eight licenses granted to operators offering gambling activities online in Estonia. Local players are allowed to choose among a variety of websites of legal operators.

License for providing online casino and gambling operations is required to be obtained from both local and foreign operators. Casino and gambling activities providers that are not licensed, are blocked. Up to date, there are eight licensed operators on the online gambling market of the country, and more than 800 online casinos that are blacklisted by the country.

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