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Exclusive interview with Mare Balticum Gaming Summit speaker, Valts Nerets(Senior Associate at Sorainen Latvia)

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My latest interviewee is a well known lawyer in Latvia and internationally. Valts Nerets is Senior Associate at Sorainen Latvia and has been practising law since 2008. Valts will be among the speakers at the inaugural edition of Mare Balticum Gaming Summit Riga, which is going to be held on the 8th of May at Astor Riga. You can find more details here

Thank you very much for being available for this interview. I read in your biography that you are senior associate and have been practicing law since 2008. As head of the Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Sector Group in Latvia you specialized in dispute resolution, distribution and trade, transport and maritime, information technology and data protection, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, and telecommunications. You also have extensive experience in litigation and arbitration, administrative law and procedure, contract law and international investment law. Why did you also choose the gambling industry and what other information about you would you like to share with us?

Valts: My work in Sorainen started more than seven years ago and back then my knowledge in gambling laws was very limited. One of the very first assignments that allowed me to obtain an in-depth insight into gambling law peculiarities, was back in 2011 when the Ministry of Finance of Latvia planned enacting a new Lotteries and Gambling Law. The online gambling industry was furious about the proposed changes which were very inconsiderate and were aimed into imposing more and more restrictions on the industry without any proper reasoning. It took many hours of work, letters, opinions and meetings, to convince the Ministry of Finance that the wording was incompatible. And a new law was not enacted back then and has not been enacted yet. Also, for example, to a very large extent it is thanks to our efforts that for obtaining a Latvian gambling license the law now requires that the foreign capital in the company does not exceed 49% excluding investors not only from the EU, but also from the EEA and the OECD member states.

I maintain close contacts with the gambling industry, but my passion is dispute resolution and in particular investment arbitration. I hope that in the future we also manage to defend the gambling industry players in investment cases against the State.

Would you please tell us more about the projects you have worked on and about the difficulties and successes you have experienced during your career?

Valts: It is indeed true that every case is unique and sometimes the smallest assignments are those which require most attention. Apart from our successful work on the gambling law amendments, already just in the very first two months of 2018 I have completed work on two very important assignments related to government relations. First, we drafted amendments to the Law on State Funded Pensions which hopefully will make Latvia not to be the last EU member state having no mechanism for inheritance of the funded pension capital. Second, we assisted our client in drafting amendments to the regulations on ridesharing. Both are crucial for every individual and I believe we have contributed to make life better for every citizen in Latvia.

What is your personal opinion about the gambling industry in general in Europe or in the countries you know better?

Valts: In many European countries the situation with gambling is similar: it is not considered as an industry beneficial for citizen well-being. The legislators are very indolent in liberalising the gambling laws. Advertising opportunities are almost limited to zero and taxes are constantly increasing. It is of course true that the increasing AML risks must be duly handled, but at the same time the feeling is that the legislators impose restrictions without carefully evaluating the risks and without taking into account the industry’s opinion.

Please tell us more about the Latvian gambling industry, the challenges of this market, the Latvian laws and regulations and their acceptance by the public.

Valts: With about 2 million population the Latvian market is very small and is seen as cost ineffective to most gambling organisers who must obtain a Latvian licence to operate there. There are only less than 10 casinos operating in Latvia, about 350 gambling halls with roughly 9000 slot machines and 100 roulette and card tables run by 13 licensed gambling operators. There are seven online gambling operators in Latvia, and it is expected that this number will increase. During the last few years the supervisory authority has put a significant effort in combating operation of unlicensed gambling operators in Latvia by blocking access to their websites, albeit not fully efficiently.

We know that gambling in Latvia is completely legal and has been regulated by the government since 1988. Online gambling is also legal if the operator is licensed in Latvia. What important issues can you relate regarding gambling and online gambling in Latvia?

Valts: To operate online gambling in Latvia, the gambling organiser must obtain a Latvian licence. The requirements for obtaining the licence are the same as for land-based gambling. The most significant requirement is establishing a capital company in Latvia with a paid-up share capital of not less than EUR 1,4 million. Since 2016 the requirement to locate the equipment in Latvia that is used for operating the gambling has been abolished and is replaced with granting the State authority access to such equipment. The competition in online gambling in Latvia is increasing, as more and more gambling operators are considering obtaining a licence due to the blocking of unlicensed operators’ websites.

 

Tell us please about your future plans, projects regarding your professional life.

Valts: In today’s business providing legal advice requires industry-specific know-how and keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest sector developments. That is the only way how to provide an exact solution to the client. Thus the professional challenge is keeping myself updated on the industries where my clients operate, including gambling. IT solutions and digital platforms like Avokaado, which Sorainen recently has started to use for contract automation, offer incredible opportunities also for lawyers. Law firms must be IT-focused and increase their efficiency to meet the needs of their clients. This is even more true in such relatively small markets as Latvia.

To meet Valts in person, make sure you register for Mare Balticum Gaming Summit and gain access into compliance related content about the Baltics and Scandinavian region.

Interviewee profile:

Valts Nerets, a senior associate has been practising law since 2008.

He is head of the Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Sector Group in Latvia. Valts specialises in dispute resolution, distribution and trade, transport and maritime, information technology and data protection, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, and telecommunications. In particular, he has extensive experience in litigation and arbitration, administrative law and procedure, contract law and international investment law. Valts has further developed his knowledge by participating in summer schools and additional courses in such fields as maritime law and mediation. Before joining Sorainen, Valts specialised in telecommunications and dispute resolution, through his work as a senior in-house lawyer for the leading satellite and telecommunications equipment wholesaler in the Baltics.

Additionally, Valts has vast experience in lecturing, and today he maintains successful cooperation with several universities. He is a lecturer at the Riga Graduate School of Law for courses in Private international law and international civil procedure, International sales law and Comparative constitutional and administrative law, as well as a lecturer and programme director at the College of Business Administration. International investment law is the main field of interest where Valts continues his research.

Valts has authored several learning manuals on administrative law and procedure.

The Legal 500 recommends him in the shipping and transport practice.

Reka is an Experienced English second language teacher with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Microsoft Excel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Translation, Foreign Languages, and Lecturing. Strong education professional with a Bachelor’s Degree majored in English Language and Literature/Letters. Reka is in charge of conducting the exclusive interviews on European Gaming and our printed magazine

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Baltics

European Gaming announces Andrius Gabnys (Gabnys Law Firm) as ambassador for MARE BALTICUM

George Miller

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We are proud to announce that Andrius Gabnys (Gabnys Law Firm) will join us as event Ambassador at the second edition of MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit, which will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on the 9th of May, 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel.

Finally, Vilnius has been given an opportunity to host the first full-fledged international gambling forum. It deserves one and it will be an honour to contribute in making it the top quality gathering for the gaming industry professionals.

It is the second edition of the Mare Balticum Gaming Summit, which European Gaming Media and Events brought into the map of annual European gaming conferences. Last year’s event in Riga and the subsequent developments in the region proved that the Baltics and Nordics need the dedicated forum. Let’s meet in Vilnius this Spring 2019! We have a lot to discuss!stated Andrius Gabnys (Attorney at Gabnys Law Firm).

Zoltán Tűndik, Founder, Co-Owner and Head of Business at European Gaming Media and Events added: “We are happy to welcome Andrius as an ambassador for MARE BALTICUM and look forward to working with him once again as we did with the inaugural event. Andrius is a well-known and respected attorney in the region and we are lucky that we can work with him. Andrius has extensive experience dealing with the gambling authorities in Europe, CIS countries, Africa and South America which makes him a leading figure of the industry in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for industry development.

MARE BALTICUM 2 will once again bring together the leading companies in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for a full day of quality learning and networking with local regulators and industry experts.

You can Register here!

Browse the official event website here: www.marebalticumgaming.com

You can view the photo gallery from the inaugural event on the follow this link.

About Andrius Gabnys

Andrius Gabnys is an attorney-at-law and a managing partner at Gabnys Law Firm, a legal boutique based in Vilnius, Lithuania and Tallinn, Estonia. The Firm specializes in entertainment (gambling, media, arts) and technology (IT, cybersecurity) legal aspects. Andrius Gabnys has been working in the online gambling sector for over 10 years, and focuses on the multijurisdictional licensing, IP and related matters. He has an extensive experience dealing with the gambling authorities in Europe, CIS countries, Africa and South America.

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Baltics

Save the date for MARE BALTICUM 2 – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit and Awards 2019

Zoltan Tundik

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We are honored to announce that the registrations are open for the second edition of MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit which will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on the 9th of May, 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel.

The new location of the event is based on the survey results which was sent out after the inaugural event in 2018, which was held in Riga.

MARE BALTICUM 2 will once again bring together the leading companies in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for a full day of quality learning and networking with local regulators and industry experts.

Already confirmed officials are Lolita Sumskaite (Ministry of Finance, Lithuania), Signe Birne (Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of the Republic of Latvia), Taivo Põrk (Ministry of Finance, Estonia) and Brigitte Sand (Director, Danish Gambling Authority). More officials will be announced by the end of 2018.

You can Register here.

In addition to the regulatory reports and trending topics about Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark and Sweden, the summit will bring the latest information about the Belarusian market.

Besides the market focusing panel discussion, we are adding two important topics to the agenda, Safe Gambling and Industry Innovations.

As in 2018, MARE BALTICUM will feature a special IMGL MASTERCLASS™.

New in 2019: Awards Ceremony for the Baltic and Scandinavian Industry

We are delighted to announce that we are adding an industry awards ceremony which will reward the hard work of companies in the region.

Titled as “The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Awards” (BSG Awards), the awards will be given to the top companies in their respective fields in an independent, fair and representative awards ceremony.

More details about the nominations phase, voting and categories will be revealed soon! For early enquiries, please contact zoltan.tundik@europeangaming.eu or betty.tundik@europeangaming.eu

You can view the photo gallery from the  inaugural event on the follow this link.

Testimonials from the attendees of the inaugural summit in Riga:

Satenik Danielyan (Head of Spring BME operations at BetConstruct): “Everything was just fine! The ambiance was very nice, the moderators were very highly qualified and engaging people, very suportive!”

Marjan Branko (Account Director at SBTech): “Another nice and productive event. Keep up the good job, guys!”

Taivo Põrk (Ministry of Finance, Estonia): “Looking forward to the next one! I will be back next year as well!”

Sissel Weitzhandler (Group Compliance Manager at Play’n Go): “It was an honor to take part at Mare Balticum Gaming Summit in Riga last week. The agenda and topics were extremely relevant, as demonstrated by the high level of interest and the entire event was very well organised. It was an absolute pleasure to take part in the forum so well attended by regulators, legal experts, industry representatives and operators where ideas and lessons can be shared and learned. I would like to thank the organisers, the individual panels including my distinguished fellow panelists. I hope to be back again as I believe this is an event one should not miss.”

Andrius Gabnys (Managing partner, Attorney-at-Law at Gabnys Law Firm): “I strongly believe that the region – Baltic States and beyond – has been an unfortunate gap in the industry media and events coverage for quite a long time. Zoltan and Betty were bold enough to make the first true dedicated gambling forum in the region and from my experience at Mare Balticum Gaming Summit it turned out to be a very good idea. Smooth organization, accurately selected panels, convenient and cozy venue. A very strong foundation for another successful series of events for European Gaming Media and Events.”

Pieter Remmers (Assissa): “A very good industry focused event with lots of attention to the individual participant.”

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Conferences in Europe

The inaugural European Gaming Congress (EGC) records a huge success at it debut, new destination announced for 2019

George Miller

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The inaugural European Gaming Congress took place last month on the 16th of October in Ljubljana and has recorded a significant success for our team.

European Gaming Congress (EGC) is the newest conference in our portfolio and targets a broader audience in the Europe with panel discussion covering all the regions.

We are really happy with the turnout of the event and the feedback we received from the attending operators, service providers and experts of the industry. We designed EGC to complement our already established events in the Baltic, Scandinavian and CEE regions. The conference is here to stay and we look forward to exploring its new destination in 2019 which was voted via a survey by the industry.“ commented Zoltán Tűndik, Founder, Co-Owner and Head of Business at European Gaming Media and Events.

As mentioned earlier, the conference took place at Grand Union Hotel Ljubljana on the 16th of October and based on the results of the post event survey, the 2019 edition will be held in Milan, Italy.

You can Pre-Register here.

To view the photo gallery from the event, follow this link.

To gain access to the recordings of the panel discussions, please contact zoltan.tundik@europeangaming.eu or betty.tundik@europeangaming.eu

Testimonials from the attendees:

The inaugural European Gaming Congress in Ljubljana is a boutique event that brings together experts  from all over Europe to exchange experiences from different countries as well as to develop thoughts and knowledge in various areas of gaming law. Great experience with wonderful people!” – Dr. Alexandra Körner (Senior Legal Associate at MME Legal AG)

The inaugural European Gaming Congress in Ljubljana was an extremely informative and well organized get-together of gaming and gambling professionals. The European Gaming Media team have managed to pull together a great mix of professionals in a very accommodating and enjoyable location. OSM Solutions will definitely return for the 2019 congress.” – Martin Stöfler (Co-Founder at OSM Solutions)

Another exciting event in the igaming industry. European Gaming Congress, taking place in a beautiful city of Ljubljana, proved to be another successful occasion organized by Zoltan and his colleagues. For me personally, the event provided valuable information about the current status quo in regulated markets and shared insights into the compliance issues many of my industry colleagues have been facing. The programme was superb, with an impeccable selection of high profile speakers and well-thought-out panel discussions. Can’t wait for the 2019 edition!” – Lucia Chmeľová (Compliance Manager at Tom Horn Gaming)

Excelent insight into the Balkan market particularly on the Slovenian market” – Michael Karamanlis (Legal Counsel at Stoiximan.gr and Betano)

EGC Ljubljana was a great opportunity to get relevant information from various markets and to meet numerous professionals across the Europe.” – Zoran Puhac (Secretary-General at EOGL)

Good cozy event – not too big and just right to be able to meet and speak with everybody. I saw many new faces and still didn’t manage to get acquainted with everyone.” – Kate Romanenko (Head Of Sales at Evoplay Entertainment)

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