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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

Ieva Andersone (Sorainen Latvia) will add her insights about the Latvian gambling industry at MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit 2019

Zoltan Tundik

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The online and land-based gambling industry is well connected in the Baltics and it has been just lately that region has been quoted in several industry media outlets. Especially given the fact that the City Council of Riga, Latvia’s capital, is going to close down all gaming venues in the city, including the downtown and neighborhoods.

A decree had been ordered by Nils Usakovs from the municipality’s Legal Affairs Department and Urban Development Department and the plan is to revoke all gaming venues’ licenses in Riga, except for those given to four- and five-star hotels.

According to the Law on Gambling in Latvia, if the operation of gambling on the particular premises creates a substantial impairment to the interests of the State and the residents of the respective administrative area, the city or the local government council is entitled to terminate the permit to establish a casino, a gambling hall, a bingo hall, a betting or a wagering shop and to operate the respective type of gambling on the particular premises, by means of a reasoned decision.

During the second edition of MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit, which will take place on the 9th of May at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel, experts of the industry and regulators will debate the recent actions and will also brief the attending delegates about the regulations in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and the DACH region.

Register here or View the Agenda!

Ieva Andersone, Commercial & Regulatory Practice Group partner at Sorainen Latvia, will join the “Focus on the Latvian and Estonian gambling industry” compliance panel discussion, which is consisted by 2 regulators (Signe Birne – Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of the Republic of Latvia, Taivo Põrk – Ministry of Finance, Estonia) and industry representatives from the region.

About Ieva Andersone

Ieva Andersone is a partner at Sorainen, responsible for Commercial & Regulatory practice group in Latvia, including trade regulation, intellectual property & IT law, privacy and data protection, consumer law, competition law, and energy. During her practice, Ieva has made a special focus to clients from Pharmaceutical & Life sciences, and well as Technology & Media sectors, including the gaming industry.

Ieva is a frequent speaker on data protection, privacy, regulatory and compliance matters, and she also regularly provides pro bono assistance for companies in creative industries and for creative personalities.

Make sure you take advantage of this unique opportunity of learning and networking with the gambling industry in the Baltic and Scandinavian region via the MARE BALTICUM Gaming platform which has been launched in 2018 and is committed to bringing together industry shareholders and government officials from the Baltic and Scandinavian region on a yearly base.

Register here or View the Agenda!

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Baltics

Viktorija Antanaviciute (TonyBet) joins the speakers’ list at MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit 2019

Zoltan Tundik

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MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit is the leading conference of the Baltic and Scandinavian gambling industry and each year gathers the local operators, government officials and software provider for a full day of quality learning and networking.

We are honored to announce that Viktorija Antanaviciute, Managing Director at TonyBet, will join the “Focus on the Latvian and Estonian gambling industry” compliance panel discussion, alongside Signe Birne (Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of the Republic of Latvia), Taivo Põrk (Ministry of Finance, Estonia) and Ieva Andersone (Commercial & Regulatory Practice Group partner at Sorainen). The panel will be moderated by the Ambassador of the conference, Andrius Gabnys (Founder at Gabnys Law Firm).

About Viktorija Antanaviciute

Viktorija Antanaviciute is an experienced and passionate C-level executive with marketing, sales and finance experience running successful large scale B2B & B2C projects for leading names in the industry, including PokerStars, 888Holdings, Kindred, GVC, WSOP and many more.

Viktorija, who hails from financial and gaming technology-driven country Lithuania in the Baltics, has started her journey in the Finance department at iBus Media Ltd, owner of Pokernews and introduced best-in-class BI practices, which resulted over 15% of costs savings for the group. Under her supervision, the Sales and Commercial teams increased key clients’ revenue by 65% and signed new deals with 200+ operators. She has also restructured Online Affiliate World Network, increasing operating revenues by 500% in a year.

In 2017 Viktorija moved on to TonyBet as Managing Director, focusing on geographical expansion and brand awareness across the industry, while offering her ongoing support and expertise to both her team, clients and suppliers and fellow women in the industry. She has been nominated as an influential woman in the industry in multiple awards.

Make sure you take advantage of this unique opportunity of learning and networking with the gambling industry in the Baltic and Scandinavian region via the MARE BALTICUM Gaming platform which has been launched in 2018 and is committed to bringing together industry shareholders and government officials from the Baltic and Scandinavian region on a yearly base.

Register here or View the Agenda!

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Baltics

SBTech announced as Lanyards Sponsor of MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit 2

Zoltan Tundik

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SBTech announced as Lanyards Sponsor of MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit 2 – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit & Awards

We are honored to announce that in 2019, we will have the support of leading sports betting software provider, SBTech as the Official Lanyards Sponsor at MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit.

The Summit is held in on a yearly basis and it is a “must-attend” event in the region, gathering industry stakeholders from the Baltic and Scandinavian region, but also internationally.

MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit, also known as the Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit & Awards 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 Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, and also from the DACH region.

The Summit will approach all regulatory and compliance related aspects of the mentioned markets and will also highlight some trending topics such as the importance of a good Customer Relationship Management, Outsourcing, use of Big Data and AI, Safe Gambling, AML, KYC and will also include a special future gaming industry related panel discussion, and an exclusive IMGL MasterClass about the Nordics.

As mentioned above, SBTech, the award-winning global leader in omni-channel sports betting and gaming technology which powers the world’s largest operators, state lotteries, land-based casinos, and horse racing companies is going to be the Lanyards Sponsor of the conference.

Founded in 2007, and with more than 1,100 employees in nine global offices, SBTech has developed the industry’s most powerful, innovative, data-driven online sports betting and casino platform, serving licensees in more than 20 regulated markets.

The group supplies highly flexible and scalable omni-channel betting and gaming software solutions to clients looking for exceptional configurability, differentiation, and the quickest route to market, complemented by proven business intelligence and reporting capabilities.

Supported by unrivaled expertise in trading and risk management, acquisition and CRM, and the highest standards of regulatory compliance, SBTech’s partners consistently achieve rapid growth, enhanced brand loyalty and record revenues.

For more information, visit: www.sbtech.com

 Make sure you take advantage of this unique opportunity of learning and networking with the gambling industry in the Baltic and Scandinavian region via the MARE BALTICUM Gaming platform which has been launched in 2018 and is committed to bringing together industry shareholders and government officials from the Baltic and Scandinavian region on a yearly base.

Register here!

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

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