Constitutional Court Strikes Down Rīga’s Gambling Ban

The Constitutional Court of Latvia issued a ruling on April 4, declaring the ban on gambling organizations throughout Rīga as unconstitutional. The court’s decision came after gambling companies including Olympic Casino Latvia Ltd, Alfor Ltd, and Joker Ltd challenged the restriction’s legality.

The legal dispute arose from a contentious norm that prohibits gambling activities across the entire administrative territory of Rīga, except within four- or five-star hotels. Rīga City Council initiated this ban, aiming to close down numerous gambling venues located in the city center and beyond.

Court’s Decision and Reasoning

In its verdict, the Constitutional Court emphasized that gambling is a legitimate commercial activity operating within a framework of free competition. While acknowledging the municipality’s authority to regulate gambling within its boundaries, the court found the ban’s justification lacking.

The court underscored the importance of a comprehensive territorial assessment before imposing such restrictions. It criticized the municipality for failing to provide sufficient reasons for prohibiting gambling in areas designated for commercial activities, as outlined in the spatial plan.

The court’s ruling highlights the need for municipalities to conduct thorough evaluations when implementing gambling restrictions. The decision not only affects Rīga’s gambling landscape but also sets a precedent for similar cases nationwide.

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