Betting in Lithuania

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Located south of Latvia and bordering Belarus, Poland and the Russian enclave of the Kaliningrad Oblast, Lithuania is the largest of all the Baltic States. As a democratic republic, the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 and became a full member of the European Union in 2004 after nine years as an associate. The nation’s population totals close to 3.3 million, the local currency is the Litas and the official language is Lithuanian.

When the Gaming Act was passed by the Lithuanian Parliament in July of 2001, gambling was legalised and brought under the supervision of a new regulatory body—the State Gaming Control Commission. The act provides for commercial activities related to casino gaming, including table games and slot machines, as well as slot machine arcades, bingo halls, lotteries and sports wagering.

Over the past decade no fewer than 21 full-fledged casinos have opened for business throughout Lithuania. Eleven of them are located in the capital city, Vilnius, while three are in Kaunas and another three can be found the port city of Klaipeda. Others have been established in Palanga, Panevezys and Siauliai.

Olympic Entertainment Group is the biggest casino operator in the country with 10 venues under its “Olympic Casino” brand. The largest of its properties is located in Vilnius inside the Radisson Blu Lietuva (formerly the Reval Hotel), where 119 gaming machines and 31 table games occupy a floor space of 16,146 square feet. All Olympic Casinos are open 24 hours a day and offer frequent players membership benefits through the “Bonus Club.”

Apart from the casinos, Tete-a-Tete operates several gaming machine halls with progressive jackpots as the main attraction. There is also one bingo hall in the capital, which was opened by Orakulas in 2003. In 2010, the nation’s Department of Physical Education and Sports officially recognised Poker as a sport, and the number of organised tournaments in Lithuania has proliferated as a result.

Lithuania currently has three local lottery operators. Launched originally in 1992, Olifeja is the largest of the trio and the only one licensed to operate an online lottery. Tele-Loto is its most popular product, complemented by Jega, Keno Loto and “split level.” Offering competition with their own lotteries are Zalgirio Loto and Fortuna Baltica.

As for bookmaking, limited illegal sports betting took place prior to 2001, catering primarily to the locals’ love of football. Following the introduction of the Gaming Act, licensed bookmakers have come into vogue, led by Top Sport, which has been operating several dozen betting shops around the country since 2002.

Orakulas and Omnibet are also major bookmakers, with the latter being the only one to offer wagering on greyhound racing. In 2008, Baltic Bet applied for and received a license to accept bets from the Lithuanian public on horse and dog races taking place in other Baltic countries. All of four of the above-mentioned bookmakers accept wagers online through their Internet sportsbooks in the Lithuanian language.

Oddly enough, the Gaming Act does not refer to online gambling, so the creation of web sites for casino games and sports betting is currently unregulated. There are no laws to prohibit Lithuanians from wagering via the Internet and sportsbook operators based outside the country are happy to provide services to the Lithuanian betting public.

To date, some 458 sports betting sites accept wagers from residents of Lithuania, including Expekt, UniBet, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Bet365, to name a few of the majors. Additionally, web site access in Lithuanian is available from Unibet, Triobet and Bet24, all domiciled in Malta, as well as from 123 Vegas Win based in Costa Rica.