Lithuania Proposal Would Ban Gambling Advertising

February 15, 2024
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More than 40 MPs have submitted a draft law to ban gambling advertising in Lithuania, just days after fellow Baltic nation Estonia's government was warned of the unintended consequences that an advertising ban would have.
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More than 40 MPs have submitted a draft law to ban gambling advertising in Lithuania, just days after fellow Baltic nation Estonia's government was warned of the unintended consequences that an advertising ban would have.

The Lithuania draft law was submitted to the Seimas, the country's parliament, on Monday (February 12) by members of the Homeland Union party, which is the largest party in the current government coalition.

The only allowed forms of gambling advertising under the draft law are posting the name and brand on the building of the headquarters of a gambling operator, or the building where the gambling firm is located, or right next to its entrance.

Additionally, operators can publish information about the type of games they offer either in land-based gambling venues or on their websites.

Informative notices intended only for gambling professionals are also allowed. 

The law would also make it illegal “to disseminate information about the sponsorship of any kind of public events, activities, natural and legal persons by the company organising gambling”.

The law would enter into force on January 1, 2025.

Lithuania began heavily restricted gambling advertising on November 1, 2021; however, the restrictions have not had their intended impact.

Lotteries and gambling operators spent €12.73m on advertising in 2023, more than double the €6.36m they spent in 2021. Operator profits also increased from €20m in 2021 to more than €53m in 2022, according to an explanatory note submitted along with the draft bill.

“It is clear that the currently applied advertising restrictions are not only insufficient but also create prerequisites for further aggressive advertising of gambling and encouraging people to gamble, for example, attention-grabbing advertisements at educational institutions that create the illusion of getting rich quickly and easily are currently visible,” according to the explanatory note.

The number of gamblers “may decrease” as a result of the ban, affecting gambling businesses.

Media businesses are also expected to be affected “as it will reduce the funds allocated by gambling companies for advertising”, according to the note. 

Lithuania’s proposal comes despite fellow Baltic nation Estonia’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications' (MEAC) recent warning that banning gambling advertising will “lead to a series of new concerns” and a call for more research ahead of proposed changes to the country’s Advertising Act.

Separately, the Lithuanian Gambling Supervision Service (GSS) under the Ministry of Finance announced it is inspecting UAB Olympic Casino Group Baltija “regarding Šarūnas Stepukonis' possible gambling in this company” on February 6. An update on the inspection results will be provided at a later date by the gambling regulator.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office called on Lithuanian authorities to arrest Stepukonis on February 2, a former partner of the BaltCap Infrastructure Fund, for allegedly misappropriating €27m from the fund. He was arrested on Saturday (February 10).

The GSS has not responded to comment yet on the investigation.

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