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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

Lolita Sumskaite (Head of Unit at Ministry of Finance, Lithuania) to speak at MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit 2

Zoltan Tundik

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Leading industry expert responsible for designing the national gambling policy in Lithuania through legislation for more than 17 years, set to join the “Gambling Industry in Lithuania” (Compliance Panel Discussion) at the second edition of the most important gambling industry conference in the Baltic and Scandinavian region.

We are honoured to announce that Ms Lolita Sumskaite will represent the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania at MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit 2019, which will take place on 9 May 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel.

Lolita Šumskaitė is working for the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania and was responsible for designing the national gambling policy in Lithuania through legislation for more than 17 years. She was the main author of the first Law on Gambling, which was adopted in 2001. Lolita is a member of EC Expert Group of Gambling Services.

Since 2010, her responsibilities also include insurance – designing insurance policy through legislation and her main responsibility is to implement EU regulation into national legislation.

Starting 2013, she is responsible for anti-money laundering acts – following and participating in the negotiations in the EU Council on the text of Anti Money Laundering Directive, preparing LT positions. Lolita was Chair of the EU Council’s Working Party discussing fourth Anti Money Laundering Directive during LT Presidency of the EC.

MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit 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 find more details about the Agenda here or 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 following this link.

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Conferences in Europe

BETEGY announced as AI BRIEFING SPONSOR at Prague Gaming Summit 3

Zoltan Tundik

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Without any doubt, 2019 is the year which will have many discussion that involves the use of AI in Big Data, sports betting, casino, lottery, analytics, responsible gambling, and many more verticals.

The recently announced sponsor at Prague Gaming Summit stands out in the crowd of software and service suppliers of the online and land-based gambling industry.

BETEGY is the sports data analytics company, which works on the intersection of sports, technology, and gaming. It provides various B2C and B2B products. BETEGY licenses the data and visualization systems to global sports betting and media companies like ESPN (USA), Turkcell (Turkey), Ringier Axel Springer (Eastern Europe), Wozhongla.com (China), Yahoo Sports (UK), Bwin (Russia) and others

Do not miss this exciting opportunity to meet the team at Prague Gaming Summit 3 and discuss collaboration possibilities! You can Register here or View the Agenda

The conference is held on a yearly basis and it is a “must-attend” gathering for all industry shareholders who are looking for top quality learning and networking having the online and land-based gambling industry in focus.

Prague Gaming Summit offers the opportunity for both new companies and veterans, to learn about industry insights and compliance update, while also being part of a group that is at the forefront of the gambling industry in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Liechtenstein.

The Summit will approach all regulatory and compliance related aspects of the mentioned markets and will also highlight some trending topics such as the relationships between Regulators, Operators – Affiliates, MasterCard’s new requirements for Online Merchants (CFD, FX, Gaming, Crypto), understanding millennials (with emphasis on eSports, Daily Fantasy Sports an Virtual Sports), outsourcing for gaming companies, IT security, AML, KYC, CSR.

The program will also include a very important IMGL MasterClass that will aim to share the latest insights by the International Masters of Gaming Law experts about advertisement banning.

Full details about the event can be found on the official event website: www.praguegamingsummit.com

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Baltics

Early Bird Rate and Nominations expire in two weeks for the Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit and Awards

Zoltan Tundik

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There are only two weeks to register at the Early Bird Rate for MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit and save 100 EUR for your ticket(s).

The second edition of the conference will take place on 9 May 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel and as announced earlier, the conference will include the inaugural edition of the BSG Awards (Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Awards). The awards ceremony will celebrate the leading companies for their respective categories from the Baltics and Nordics.

You can find more details about the nominations and categories on the following link.

In terms of the content and networking, some of the leading industry experts from the region, which includes regulators, lawyers, gambling operators, and supplier representatives, will supply the continuous presentation.

Some of the leading names have already been added to the speakers lineup, which include Andrius Gabnys (Founder at Gabnys Law Firm) – Conference Ambassador, Lolita Sumskaite (Head of Unit at Ministry of Finance, Lithuania),  Signe Birne (Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of the Republic of Latvia), Taivo Põrk (Ministry of Finance, Estonia), Valts Nerets (Senior Associate, attorney-at-law at Sorainen), Viktorija Antanaviciute (Managing Director at TonyBet), Morten Ronde (CEO at Danish Online Gambling Association and Managing Partner at Nordic Gambling), Sissel Weitzhandler (Group Compliance Manager), Gustaf Hoffstedt (General Secretary at the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling), Tal Itzhak Ron (Chairman & CEO at Tal Ron, Drihem & Co., Law Firm), Dr. Joerg Hofmann (Partner, MELCHERS LAW), Pieter Remmers (CEO, Assissa), Dr. Simon Planzer (Partner at PLANZER LAW, Zurich), and many more.

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 following this link.

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