Latvia’s Capital Riga Moves to Shut Down All Gaming Halls by 2023
A Bold Decision in the Name of Public Health
In a significant move against gambling, the Riga City Council has made the decision to close all gaming halls in the city, apart from those within four- and five-star hotels. The decision is expected to impact 42 gaming halls and will come into effect on September 27, 2023. This move aligns with the Council’s campaign against gambling, and advocates argue it is in the interest of public health and social welfare.
Operators Threaten Legal Action
Gaming operators have reacted strongly against the decision, threatening legal action on the grounds of discrimination. They argue that the move unjustly targets specific venues while allowing others to continue operations. Moreover, they warn of significant economic consequences, citing the considerable revenue the gaming industry contributes to the city’s budget.
Concerns Over Rise in Illegal Gambling
Operators have also expressed concerns over a potential increase in illegal gambling activities. The closure of regulated gaming venues, they argue, might push players towards illegal and unregulated platforms. This shift could pose significant risks in terms of consumer protection.
City Council Stands Firm Amid Opposition
Despite the opposition, the City Council maintains that the decision was made with the welfare of the public in mind. They argue that closing the gaming halls would help mitigate problem gambling and its associated social issues. The Council also points out that the move aligns with public sentiment, as a majority of Riga’s residents had previously expressed support for the reduction of gambling venues in the city.
A Gradual Process Towards Closure
The City Council plans to implement the decision by not renewing the gaming licenses of the affected venues when they expire. This process will begin on January 1, 2023, and will be completed by September 27, 2023.
A Significant Step in Riga’s Campaign Against Gambling
In conclusion, the decision by the Riga City Council to close all gaming halls outside of hotels signals a major step in its campaign against gambling. While operators resist the move, citing economic consequences and a potential rise in illegal gambling activities, the City Council insists the closure is in the best interest of public health and social welfare. The process towards closure will gradually take place from January 1, 2023, until September 27, 2023.
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