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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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Balkan's

European Gaming Congress Ljubljana announces Luka Popovic as latest speaker in the Balkans oriented panel discussion

Zoltan Tundik

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European Gaming Congress (EGC) is slowly becoming a must-go-to event in the calendar by attracting lots of attention from operators that are eager to hear more about the compliance updates in Europe from the experts that are going to be present at the conference.

The conference will take place at Grand Union Hotel Ljubljana on the 16th of October and is a must attend event for European operators who are active in regulated and non-regulated markets.

You can Register here or View the Agenda

European Gaming Congress is specially designed to bring together industry experts, regulators, operators and service providers in order to discuss burning issues some of the markets are facing when working with compliance updates and licensing. The event also offers networking sessions which will help attending delegates to meet and greet some of well known faces of the gambling industry in Europe. The agenda will give the opportunity for attending delegates to dive into regulatory updates from Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Greece and many more jurisdictions. We look forward to seeing you in Ljubljana with a full day of quality content and networking.

Given the location of the conference, the panel discussion includes regulatory updates from the Balkans region, with special emphasis on Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Luka Popovic (partner in the leading regional law firm BDK Advokati) is going to join the “Highlighting the Balkans and Southeast Europe” panel discussion along with Zoran Puhač (European Organization for Gaming Law -EOGL), Tatjana Scepanovic (Montenegro Bet) and Zlatan Omerspahic (NSoft)

The panel discussion will be moderated by Donata Szabo (GamblingCompliance)

About Luka Popovic

Luka is a partner in the leading regional law firm BDK Advokati (with offices in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina). He is a member of the Montenegrin Bar Association and was on the list of arbitrators of the Arbitration Board for the Resolution of Consumer Disputes at the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro.

Luka has been managing BDK Advokati’s Montenegrin operations since 2013. He is involved in all aspects of the firm’s Montenegrin work, and maintains special industry focus on gaming and hospitality. Luka is the head of the firm’s gaming practice.

IFLR1000 recognizes Luka as a highly regarded lawyer, Legal 500 regards him as a leading individual in the legal market, and Chambers & Partners ranks him as a top-tier lawyer in Montenegro.

Make sure you register your seat in time to benefit of the great lineup of speakers and meet Luka to hear about how you gambling operation can evolve with the new advertisement banning criteries.

Full details about the event can be found on the official website of the event: https://europeangamingcongress.com/

Register here!

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CEEGC 2018

CEEGC 2018 Budapest – Less than a week until kick off, see who is attending and why you should not miss it

Zoltan Tundik

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There are only 6 days left until the third edition of the Central and Eastern European Gaming Conference (CEEGC) and Awards (CEEG Awards) opens its doors and gives access for the industry to benefit of this unique opportunity in the CEE region for learning and networking.

CEEGC is the leading conference that is shaping the industry in the CEE region by influencing the emerging market trends.

Rafal Nowak – iGaming Sales Director at Mobiyo stated about last year’s event:

A week after the Budapest Gaming CEE conferences, I’m still discussing the topics brought up there with fellow delegates. Thank you Zoltan Tundik for organizing an informative an well shaped event on this, often underestimated iGaming territory and good luck with the next one!

Kostandina – Nina Zafirovska – CEO at BtoBet also stated last year’s event:

CEEGC in Budapest was the event that brings together experts in the industry together with Central and Eastern European regulators to exchange thoughts and knowledge for development of iGaming in the region. Great experience with wonderful people.

The 2018 event is going to take place on the 25th of September at The Ritz-Carlton Budapest and we are adding 10 more seats to the event because of the high interest shown by industry shareholders to attend the event.

REGISTER HERE, to benefit of an exclusive media partner discount of 15% for your ticket(s). Make sure you use the “CEEGC2018” promo code when registering.

The agenda of the event will feature interesting panel discussions that are focusing on both operators and service providers and among the registered delegates you will find the representatives of NetEnt, Play’n Go, SBTech, BetConstruct, BtoBet, Altenar, Iforium, Superbet, Amusenet, Curacao eGaming, Data Bet, All-in Translations, GLI Europe, Greentube, HiPay, Mobiyo, Orange Pay, Pocket Games Soft, Podium North, RISQ, Sporting Solutions, Endorphina, GamblingCompliance, Fortunaweb, Tom Horn Gaming, Global Legal Group, Payvision, Bethereum, Trustly, Digitain, ARQ Risk & Compliance, Bitpay, Acapture, BetterBetting, Bird&Bird, Danish Online Gambling Association, EGT Interactive, Harris Hagan, Rombet, Playtech, Scout Gaming Group, Tonucci & Partners, EOGL, UltraPlay, WH Partners, NNDKP, Sorainen, MuchBetter, Gaming 5.0 and much more.

The event includes 6 informative panel discussions that focus on emerging markets such as Belarus, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and a special IMGL MasterClass about the state of the U.S. market.

You can view the full agenda of CEEGC 2018 on the following link

REGISTER HERE, to benefit of an exclusive media partner discount of 15% for your ticket(s). Make sure you use the “CEEGC2018” promo code when registering.

For more details about the event, visit www.ceegc.eu

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Conferences in Europe

Chris Elliott (Wiggin) to speak about advertisement banning in the UK at EGC 2018 Ljubljana

Zoltan Tundik

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Ljubljana – 17 September 2018 – There is one month until the inaugural European Gaming Congress opens its doors in Ljubljana and we are honored to invite you to join us and the leading operators of the industry at this unique event.

The conference will take place at Grand Union Hotel Ljubljana on the 16th of October and is a must attend event for European operation who are active in regulated and non-regulated markets.

You can Register here or View the Agenda

European Gaming Congress is specially designed to bring together industry experts, regulators, operators and service providers in order to discuss burning issues some of the markets are facing when working with compliance updates and licensing. The event also offers networking sessions which will help attending delegates to meet and greet some of well known faces of the gambling industry in Europe. The agenda will give the opportunity for attending delegates to dive into regulatory updates from Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Greece and many more jurisdictions. We look forward to seeing you in Ljubljana with a full day of quality content and networking.

Given the location of the conference, the panel discussion includes regulatory updates from the Balkans region, with special emphasis on Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As announced earlier, European Gaming Congress will feature a special IMGL MasterClass™ which is titled “Advertising for gambling – a new minefield for operators”.

The latest announced expert will join the above mentioned panel and will share the insights about the latest trends in the UK that shape the way operators are allowed to advertise their brands.

About Chris Elliot (Wiggin)

Chris is a commercial and regulatory lawyer, concentrating on providing UK regulatory and compliance advice to various stakeholders in the online gambling and gaming industries.

Chris acts for some of the industry’s leading operators and suppliers, as well as smaller start-up companies, advising on the regulation and marketing of betting and gaming products.

Chris also regularly advises businesses looking to expand into new markets, and has particular expertise in helping businesses understand the legal and regulatory implications associated with operating in regulated and unregulated markets.

Make sure you register your seat in time to benefit of the great lineup of speakers and meet Chris to hear about how you gambling operation can evolve with the new advertisement banning criteries.

Full details about the event can be found on the official website of the event: https://europeangamingcongress.com/

Register here!

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