Court: Riga’s Gambling Ban Unconstitutional

Riga, the capital of Latvia, can’t adopt a blanket ban of gambling within city limits. That’s the ruling of the Constitutional Court, which says it must establish zoning standards where gambling is legal.

Court: Riga’s Gambling Ban Unconstitutional

The gambling ban that the Latvian capital city of Riga imposed is unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court has ruled, iGaming Business reported April 4.

The court case was filed by gambling firms Olympic Casino Latvia Ltd, Alfor Ltd and Joker Ltd. They argued that the ban, adopted in 2018, violated Article 105 of the Constitution, which provides that property rights may only be restricted by law, not regulation.

The contested law banned gambling inside the administrative territory of Riga, except when it is located in deluxe hotels. This closed 42 casinos in the city center, then last year the city added the cancellation of gambling permits outside the city center.

The court ruled that gambling is a legal commercial activity and subject to free competition. It ruled that the city is allowed to determine what parts of the city are appropriate for gambling, but not to adopt a blanket prohibition. It found that the city had not said why gambling was prohibited, even in commercial areas.

It urges the city to assess areas where gambling might be placed by studying infrastructure, population density, and the interests of residents and commercial developers.