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De Facto: reins over gambling advertisements asked to be loosened up a bit

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAdvertisement of gambling activities outside locations where gambling is organized is prohibited in Latvia. However, no one really goes against perpetrators, especially on the internet. Gambling supervisors believe regulations that prohibit gambling advertisements do not actually work, so they offer making them more lenient, De Facto programme reports.

Two institutions in Latvia share the responsibility of supervising gambling activities – Consumer Rights Protection Centre and National Electronic Media Council.

In the past five years, National Electronic Media Council has penalized television channels at least five times for allowing gambling advertisements. Lattelecom’s subsidiary – Media 360 – was penalized this year for allowing gambling promotion during Hattrick sports show.

«The media council’s opinion was that our programme promoted gambling. After reviewing this case, we have come to the conclusion that the host of the programme had referenced bookmakers’ bet for one of the games scheduled for next week. There was no logo or any other visual representation of the gambling business,» says Media 360 manager Kaspars Ozoliņš.

The media supervisor, on the other hand, believes it was unambiguous promotion of viensviens.lv gambling site.

«It was not a one-off case – there as a system in place. The hosts of the show would bet and reference a gambling site at the same time,» De Facto was told by media council representative Kristers Pļešakovs.

The programme notes that Lattelecom’s Media 360 has decided to take this matter to court. So far courts have always taken the side of the media council. This includes cases when television channels try circumventing the law by attracting as investors sports bars named after sweepstakes, and not gambling companies directly.

Still, the media council’s arms are short when it comes to television channels registered outside of Latvia. There is no way to penalize them. De Facto reports that Britain-based Discovery includes gambling advertisements in its daily runs.

LTV reports that the British regulator has told the media council that programmes that air in Latvia are not intended just for viewers in Latvia but also countries in which TV advertisements of gambling businesses are permitted.

While the media council tries to combat TV advertisements, this area is not a priority for the Consumer Rights Protection Council. However, it is CRPC’s responsibility to penalize perpetrators for posting gambling advertisements during sports events and on websites.

De Facto has also noticed that the logo of Feniks Fun entertainment blog resembles that of Fenikss Lottery. The website is registered in Venezuela. Fenikss gambling hall owner Jānis Zuzāns evaded the question as to whether or not his company has any ties to this blog. «We have noticed some visual similarity between fenikssfun.com logo and our own. This website does not organize or promote gambling. Because of that, we do not think it can possibly promote services provided by Fenikss Lottery,» said Zuzāns in a written reply.

Sports federations have contracts signed with companies like Optibet, Olybet, Synotip, etc. Their advertisements are shown during sports events and on websites. Promotional materials are also found on certain sports portals, De Faction reports.

CRPC manager Baiba Vītoliņa explains that the matter regarding gambling advertisements has not been among its top priorities lately. People do not complain all that much and the industry’s supervisor – Gambling and Lotteries Inspectorate – has not been very active with this matter lately. CRPC manager believes it is the inspectorate’s duty to supervise advertisements.


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