Gamblers and operators alike will find that Estonia’s liberal gambling laws make the country a desirable destination. In general, players have a lot of different alternatives, and businesses can take advantage of one of Europe’s lowest tax rates.
Find out what you need to know about gambling in Estonia by reading on.
Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status
The Gambling Act of 2008 is the primary piece of legislation in Estonia concerning gambling, and it effectively legalizes almost all types of gaming. In order to legally provide services in Estonia, operators are required to get a license from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. There are two different licenses that can be obtained: one for a casino, and another for a toto, which includes sports betting.
Let’s go down the various forms of gaming and see how they fare in Estonian law.
Since 1995, Estonia has allowed citizens and visitors to enjoy land-based casino gaming. Even though there are fewer casinos in Estonia than there once were, the country still has more than 50 of them spread out across its relatively small territory in comparison to other EU member states.
Many smaller slots halls closed as a result of legal reforms in 2010 requiring casinos to contain at least 40 slot machines and/or 5 gaming tables. The Olympic Park Casino in Tallinn is Estonia’s largest casino and is operated by Olympic Entertainment Group (OEG), a major operator in the Baltic region.
Estonia legalized online casinos in 2008, but they didn’t start issuing licenses to overseas operators until 2011. OlyBet, which is owned by Olympic Casinos, was the first online casino in Estonia to be granted a license. ISPs deliberately block access to unauthorized sites that offer online slots, table games, or live dealer casino games.
Since 1995, poker games have been permitted in Estonia, and you may find it in the country’s bigger casinos. Among the few countries in the world that recognize poker as a game of both chance and skill is Estonia. Although poker is widely played in the country, there are no dedicated poker rooms because of blanket licensing regulations.
Since 2008, online poker has also been completely legal in Estonia. Licenses are necessary for operators, and players can choose between domestic and international sites. OlyBet was an early provider of internet poker games; PokerStars quickly followed.
Bingo is considered a form of lottery in Estonia, hence the state-owned lottery business, Eesti Loto, has exclusive control over both online and land-based bingo in the country. The sole form of offline bingo is the broadcast version, Bingo Loto, and the game isn’t particularly well-liked.
Tickets for the TV Bingo Lotto games can be purchased on the same website as the online bingo gambling games offered by Eesti Loto to residents of Estonia.
In Estonia, the national lottery, Eesti Loto, has monopolistic control over all lottery operations. Lottery games, keno, bingo, and the Viking Loto are just some of the other options. The company’s lottery winnings are donated to a wide range of organizations that support social good, including those in the fields of research and education, sports and welfare, and culture.
While Eesti Loto has a virtual monopoly on lottery sales in Estonia, there are no regulations against Estonians using foreign sites to play online lottery games for real money.
Crypto-casinos, loot boxes, and social gaming
Free online casinos and social casinos are not explicitly mentioned in Estonia’s gambling regulations and are therefore uncontrolled. In the same vein, neither lootboxes nor skins gaming have been explicitly mentioned in gambling legislation in the country.
The Estonian authorities was initially skeptical of cryptocurrencies, including those used in crypto casinos. Although digital coins like Bitcoin are acknowledged as having value in the country, they are not yet recognized as legal cash, and no regulated businesses in the country conduct cryptocurrency transactions either online or offline.
However, gamers can get around this by signing up for online casinos that accept cryptocurrency via third-party payment service providers.
Legalized Sports Betting in Estonia
Although sports betting has been legal in Estonia since 1995, initially only the Estonian Olympic Committee-owned Spordiennustus was allowed to run betting shops in the country. However, per EU rules, the country had to make its market accessible to foreign competitors.
These days, you can find sports betting kiosks pretty much anywhere, including in certain casinos. While football betting is the most common in Estonia, horse racing betting is available at the Tallinna Hipodroom thanks to Totalisaator.
Since 2010, Estonia has also allowed land-based and online sports betting. Sports betting is legal in Finland on both Spordiennustus and other sites run by registered operators.
Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21
Only individuals over the age of 21 are permitted to enter Estonian gambling establishments or participate in internet gambling activities. Only those over the age of 16 are legally allowed to participate in lottery games.
In accordance with Estonian law, gaming establishments must pay taxes on the number of slot machines they maintain. Tables cost about €1,278; slot machines cost €300 (+10% of bets minus profits); skill games cost about €31.95; and the lottery is taxed at 18%. One of Europe’s lowest tax rates is paid by online gambling companies, at just 5% of total bets minus winnings.
Winnings from gambling in Estonia are not subject to taxation.
The Evolution of Estonian Gambling Laws
During its time as a member of the Soviet Union, Estonia passed a law making gambling illegal. Not long after its 1991 declaration of independence, Estonia began enacting its own gaming regulations, the first of which was the Lottery Act of 1994, which gave rise to the Estonian national lottery.
Estonia’s gaming Act of 2008 established a more modern legal framework for gaming, while the country’s 1995 Law on Gambling still governs the industry. This law not only legalized internet gambling but also strengthened industry regulations and tax revenue.
ISPs in Estonia have been actively blocking unlicensed gambling sites since 2011, albeit it appears that only the larger sites are being blocked.
Legal Online Gambling in Estonia: The Essentials
Most forms of gaming are permitted in Estonia, and the country’s gambling rules are easy to understand. The following is a summary of the most important information on gambling in Estonia:
Casinos, including games like slots, poker, tables, and even live dealers, are permitted in Estonia, albeit operators must be licensed.
Sports betting is permitted in Estonia, and licenses are necessary for operators. Bingo and lottery games are legal, however Eesti Loto has exclusive control over them.