RIGA - Thanks to the new gambling and lottery law that lays down significant restrictions on the gaming business, 46 gambling halls have been closed down in Latvia since the beginning of this year, the Latvian Gaming Business Association reported.
Association director Girts Ludeks told the Baltic News Service that together, the 46 gambling halls had 482 gambling machines.
He said that 16 gambling halls with 160 gambling machines had been shut down in Riga.
"Even though the law's requirements for the minimum number of gambling machines in a hall takes effect on July 1, 2006, to meet the requirements in due time gambling operators have already started to limit their operations," Ludeks said.
He added that the association did not have information yet on how many gambling machines had been removed from cafes, bars and stores.
He said the halls had to be closed since they could not meet requirements of the new law, which state that the minimum number of gambling machines in a hall should be 20.
The taxes and duties levied on gambling businesses were also increased 1.5-fold as of Jan. 1, 2006.
Around 60 more gambling halls in Riga and about 40 in Latvia are expected to be closed on July 1. The number of gambling machines is expected to drop by 450 in Riga and by another 250 countrywide, Ludeks said.