Lithuanians Support Ad Ban But Trade Groups Warn Of Player Protection Impact

April 15, 2024
Lithuanians overwhelmingly support a gambling advertising ban, according to research commissioned by the government-owned Lithuanian National Radio and Television.

Lithuanians overwhelmingly support a gambling advertising ban, according to research commissioned by the government-owned Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT).

A survey undertaken by Baltijos Tyrimai from March 15 to March 25 found that 80 percent of the Lithuanian population either “fully agree” gambling adverts should be banned (49 percent) or “rather agree” (31 percent) they should be.

Only 5 percent of respondents did not have an opinion, leaving just 15 percent disagreeing with the statement that gambling ads should be banned.

More women (86 percent) support the proposal to ban gambling adverts than men (72 percent).

Survey respondents included 1,115 adult Lithuanian residents, including non-citizens.

Discussing LRT’s findings, Mindaugas Ardišauskas, the head of the Responsible Gambling Business Association (ALVA), warned lawmakers that there is still a large illegal gambling market and “limiting the legal supply will increase the illegal supply”.

"There was a time when gambling house operators had the right to offer free refreshments and so on. Now all this has been abolished and the only remaining means of competition is the so-called advertising,” Ardišauskas told LRT.

Liutauras Ulevičius, the president of the National Gambling and Gaming Business Association (NLZVA), also told Vixio GambingCompliance that an advertising ban would “benefit the worst market scenario where gambling is concentrated around several dominant market players, which would provide what are socially the most dangerous services such as online casino and unlimited slots”.

“From the diversified market perspective an advertising ban should be differentiated according to types of gambling services,” Ulevičius said.

He believes there should be a total advertising ban on “the most dangerous gambling services”, which he defines as casino games, as well as unlimited betting and slots, while services such as bingo or lottery products should be “almost free of regulation”.

The radio survey findings come soon after more than 40 members of parliament for the Homeland Union party, the largest party in the current government coalition, submitted a draft law to ban gambling advertising in Lithuania on February 12.

There has been no discussion or official updates on the draft law since it was submitted to the Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament.

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

However, Ulevičius said that the advertising ban proposal is just “one of ten” legal changes related to gambling being discussed by politicians. 

“The Lithuanian Law on Gambling, which had major changes in 2015, and the Law on Lotteries, which had major changes in 2019, should be revised and combined into a new single Law on Gambling Services,” he added.

“This is a sign that pandemic and online services have considerably changed the market structure and the state should react to maintain control of the market," he said. 

Lithuania began heavily restricting 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.

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